Political Hacking May Prompt U.S. to Aid Election Security

Media Coverage | August 03, 2016

Bruce McConnell, who heads EWI's Global Cooperation in Cyberspace Initiative, talks to Bloomberg about U.S. election security.

For this year’s elections, McConnell has recommended that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issue a security alert warning election officials of risks to their systems, advising them of the need to have an audit trail and paper backups, and calling on companies supplying voting machines and other equipment to go through independent audits with published results.

McConnell was commenting on the possibility of designating elections as national critical infrastructure after recent hacking attacks on political groups, a move that would open up federal assistance to election officers around the country.

The debate comes after hackers infiltrated the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in what cybersecurity experts call a broad operation by Russian operatives to infiltrate U.S. political organizations.

The DHS has the authority to designate what qualifies as critical infrastructure under Presidential Policy Directive 21 and Executive Order 13636, said McConnell, a former DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity.

In reality, though, McConnell said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is vetting the proposal through the interagency process and floating it publicly to ensure it has support before making a final decision.

"It’s not that they would take unilateral action but legally they have the authority to do this," he added. 


Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg Politics. 

McConnell has also appeared on several other news outlets discussing the topic. 

Click here to read his comments in a Politico story dated Aug. 28 titled  "Elections security: Federal help or power grab?"

Click here to listen to his interview with NPR.