Election security 2020
Voter confidence lies at the heart of the U.S. democracy. Citizens must believe in the integrity of the voting process for our system of government to work.
Shaking that confidence, however, are reports such as the one released by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year, showing that all 50 states were subject to hacking attempts in the 2016 elections.
To help tighten the security of Indiana’s voting process and shore up voter confidence, state legislators have awarded Indiana University $301,958 to partner with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to review and improve the state’s election cybersecurity incident response plan. These funds are part of a one-time $10 million appropriation for election security that had been budgeted by the Indiana General Assembly during the legislative session.
Led by the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, or CACR, the team of IU experts will help prepare election officials in all 92 Indiana counties for cybersecurity incidents related to the 2020 general election and beyond. IU’s election security team is formidable, with nearly two decades of cybersecurity experience and significant experience with incident response planning internally and consulting nationally.
“IU is honored to offer to the Secretary of State’s office expertise in securing the 2020 elections,” said Von Welch, CACR director and IU executive director for cybersecurity innovation. “Our team includes folks who are not only used to dealing with computer incidents but also public safety incidents—situations that might happen at a football game, for instance. We’re bringing all of this experience to bear to help Indiana’s counties form their own plans for responding to computing incidents, both leading up to Election Day, right after, and beyond.”
The project will have three parts:
- creation and delivery of a suite of materials and table-top training events prior to the 2020 elections, including a series of regional “boot camps” with county clerk offices to train election officials about how to respond to different forms of cyberattacks, such as phishing, phone scams and impersonation calls.
- ongoing consulting with Indiana’s Secretary of State and county clerks during the 2020 election season
- post-election documentation of lessons learned and recommendations for the future
IU has significant experience in training a variety of audiences in cybersecurity issues. For example, in September 2018, IU hosted a workshop at the IU Washington D.C. Advancement Center. The event, titled “Making Democracy Harder to Hack,” brought together a variety of academics, government officials, NGO leaders, and business people from the US and Australia.
In addition to CACR, the IU contingent includes experts from across the university: the Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC), Cybersecurity Clinic, and the Office of the Vice President for IT.