ABC 6: Local leaders react to historic summit

ABC 6: Local leaders react to historic summit

By: Rebecca Turco

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making waves around the world.

Monica Lee, the president of Rhode Island’s Korean-American Association, has dreamed for peace in the Koreas her entire life, so to see Kim promise denuclearization was a life-changing moment. She woke up around 3 a.m. to watch the summit in real-time. “I really hope for continued communication with a great outcome,” she said. “It’s not only Korean hope, and hope for the world. Who needs nuclear? No country needs that.”

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation remains skeptical over what will come of this peace agreement, pointing to the lack of a specific action plan for denuclearization.

“It was more of a photo opportunity than a substantive diplomatic agreement,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D). Reed feels the U.S. is the only party making a concession by pulling out of military exercises in South Korea – an announcement the president made at a press conference afterward.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) also feels the summit left more to be desired. “All of the items listed in the announcement have been echoed by past North Korean leaders,” he said in a statement. “I hope we can progress beyond this list to a meaningful accord that yields lasting peace.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D) says it’s still not clear whether the summit was a publicity stunt from North Korea: “Both the President and Kim have a history of failing to honor their commitments, so we need to see verifiable, concrete steps if we are to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula,” Langevin said in a statement.

Rhode Island’s GOP Chairman Brandon Bell tells ABC6 News this summit is being made into a partisan issue when it’s not. “The biggest superpower and the isolated country North Korea getting together is a big thing.”

Homeland Preparedness News: House committee advances opioid anti-trafficking legislation

Homeland Preparedness News: House committee advances opioid anti-trafficking legislation

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) recently praised the efforts of the House Committee on Homeland Security in advancing legislation designed to address opioid trafficking.

The congressmen said passage of their Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a Joint Task Force to better coordinate the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

DHS Joint Task Forces coordinate activities across the Department for border security, crisis response, and regional cooperation. Under the Langevin-King legislation, the Department would be authorized to create new task forces focused on opioid interdiction.

“The opioid crisis is devastating communities in Rhode Island and across the nation,” Langevin, a senior member of the committee, said. “We must stop the flow of overseas fentanyl into our communities, and that requires continued collaboration and integration across the Department of Homeland Security. A new Joint Task Force will provide important coordination among the DHS component agencies and between the Department and private sector partners.”

King said the action and support from the Homeland Security Committee is an important step and a recognition of Langevin’s efforts.

“I will continue to do all that I can to make sure the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act becomes law, and we stop this epidemic from destroying our communities,” he said.

The congressman referenced a report from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, highlighting synthetic opioids like fentanyl are often transported in the mail or by private parcel delivery services from overseas. McCaskill has sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.

The bill now heads to the full House for further consideration.

Warwick Beacon: Seniors advised on how to stay ahead of scammers, hackers

Warwick Beacon: Seniors advised on how to stay ahead of scammers, hackers

Change your password and only friend the people you know. That was some of the advice given a group of senior Friday as Congressman Jim Langevin, co-founder and co-chair of the congressional cybersecurity caucus visited Pilgrim Senior Enrichment Center to offer ways for seniors to protect themselves from hackers and scams while surfing the web.

“You are not helpless,” Langevin said. “There are things you can do to protect yourself in this whole thing…The Internet is here to stay but it has never been built for security.”

Comparing it to locking your house and keeping your car safe from theft, seniors must take the right steps to stay away from today’s manipulation tactics and scams.

John Martin, a representative from Rhode Island AARP encouraged seniors to become involved in the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network which will keep members updated on recent scams and allow them to report a scam if they were to come across one. The website, aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork will allow seniors to stay informed and safe while spending time on Facebook and other popular sites.

“You have a part time job,” Martin said, comparing staying up-to-date on the latest scams to doctors reading recent medical journals.

Rhode Island Cybersecurity Officer Mike Steinmetz also gave a presentation about how to make sure the senior’s Facebook settings were set to private. He also told seniors about how changing passwords every so often is a good way to keep hackers out of their accounts.

“Be careful about your location, too,” Steinmetz advised. “If you go on vacation post the pictures after you get home.”

RI State Police Computer Crimes Unit Captain, John Alfred discussed the different types of scams and how to identify them. He explained social engineering as a manipulation of people, criminals trying to get people to give them personal information that they can use to take advantage of and scam the individual.

Alfred stressed how important is to approach emails and websites with caution. He explained that hackers try to look like legitimate companies.

“Your bank is not going to reach out to you in an email asking for personal information,” he said. “Anytime someone asks you to wire money, be very suspicious. Try not to be too trusting… please be skeptical.”

One senior, Christopher Brook explained how important he thought the information was, and he was glad to have learned it.

“All of this is very relevant,” Brook said. “The crooks are staying ahead of the legislation and common sense.”

WJAR: Honoring those who paid ultimate price for freedom on Memorial Day

WJAR: Honoring those who paid ultimate price for freedom on Memorial Day

By Michelle San Miguel

On Memorial Day, people across the nation honor service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Hundreds came to pay their respects at Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter on Monday.

It was a solemn moment as Gold Star family members, along with Gov. Gina Raimondo, placed a wreath at the World War II Memorial as a tribute the those who died serving in the armed forces.

“Because of the sacrifice of you and your loved ones, we’re the greatest country on earth,” Raimondo said at the state’s 44th annual Memorial Day commemoration. “We have our freedom. We have our democracy and we’re still the envy of the world.”

During a politically divisive time in the country, elected officials reminded Rhode Islanders of their shared values.

“Where we may have political differences, we have to remember that we’re still all Americans and think of the tremendous service and sacrifice those who wear the uniform give every day to protect freedom,” Congressman Jim Langevin said.

The event was personal for the Brown family. They have loved ones who served in World War II and Vietnam buried at the cemetery.

“We just wanted to come out and have a peaceful moment with them and reminisce,” Carol Brown told NBC 10.

Cyber Scoop: House defense bill would usher in cybersecurity changes at DOD

Cyber Scoop: House defense bill would usher in cybersecurity changes at DOD

By Sean Lyngaas

The House of Representatives this week overwhelmingly passeda defense policy bill with several cybersecurity measures aimed at better securing Pentagon networks.

The legislation — the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — seeks closer collaboration between the departments of Defense and Homeland Security in defending against hackers, asks for quick notification of data breaches of military personnel, and continues to crack down on foreign-made telecom products that are deemed security threats.

The NDAA is an annual ritual that lawmakers use to shape Pentagon policies and budget plans while throwing in some pet projects to boot. The House bill — a $717 billion behemoth — eventually will be merged with the Senate’s version, which that chamber’s Armed Services Committee also approved this week. It’s unclear when the Senate bill will have floor votes.

One key provision of the House bill, according to the Rules Committee print, would set up a pilot program for the Pentagon to dispatch up to 50 cybersecurity staff to support the DHS’s mission to secure civilian networks. The deployment of the DOD personnel, potentially to DHS’s prized round-the-clock threat-sharing hub, would be a reminder of the overlapping turf that agencies compete for and try to reconcile in cyberspace.

While DOD may find itself loaning out a small group of its experts, lawmakers want to boost the department’s own workforce by giving the Defense secretary direct hiring authority through September 2025 for “any position involved with cybersecurity.” The Pentagon has boosted its ranks of computer gurus in recent years through U.S Cyber Command, but lawmakers and military brass are wary of losing these experts to lucrative private-sector jobs.

In the event of a “significant” breach of service members’ personal information, the Defense secretary would be required to promptly notify Congress. That issue came to the fore in January when it was revealed that GPS company Strava had published a map online that showed soldiers’ locations via devices like Fitbits.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, backed the defense bill’s provisions to improve “our ability to deter adversaries in cyberspace.” In response to the Russian influence-operation to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the bill would ask President Donald Trump for a report to Congress on what his administration is doing to protect against “cyber-enabled” information operations.

The House bill also keeps the pressure on Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei by barring federal agencies from buying their products, and an amendment from Texas Republican Michael McCaul extends that ban to any use of federal grant money and loans.

The Senate version of the bill also tightly restricts the Pentagon’s use of technology considered a risk to national security. For example, an amendment from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., would require DOD vendors to reveal if they’ve let foreign governments inspect their source code.

Senators seem intent on putting more language around offensive cyber-operations in their version of the bill compared to the House’s. According to a summary of the Senate bill, it stipulates a U.S. policy to use “all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities” to deter cyberattacks that “significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government.”

PBN: Five Questions With: James R. Langevin

PBN: Five Questions With: James R. Langevin

By Susan Shalhoub

The National Institute of Standards and Technology released an update to the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity this spring, the group’s first such update. Rep. James R. Langevin, D-R.I., is co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and a senior member of both the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Homeland Security.

PBN: Why is it important for different sectors, such as academia and businesses, to partner on cybersecurity defense?

LANGEVIN: Cybersecurity is a challenge that everyone faces. Computers and other information technology are pervasive in every sector of the economy … no one has a monopoly on cybersecurity talent or techniques. That’s one reason it’s been so important for the National Institute for Standards and Technology to bring together a broad set of stakeholders to develop its cybersecurity guidelines.

In updating the Cybersecurity Framework, NIST consulted with experts from business, academia and government to develop guidelines that draw upon the unique experiences of people in each of these fields and ensure that the guidelines are applicable to any organization.

PBN: What has changed most since the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity was first created?

LANGEVIN: NIST published a major update to the Cybersecurity Framework. … The new version improves some of the original technical guidelines and better explains how to manage supply-chain cyber risks. The Russian NotPetya attack, for instance, while originally targeted in Ukraine, has cost U.S. corporations [such as] Merck and FedEx hundreds of millions of dollars and was enabled by a supply-chain vulnerability.

Every business should think about how it works with its vendors and service providers and whether sensitive data may be inadvertently exposed. One of the biggest changes, though, is that NIST has made the Framework easier to use. An organization using the revised Framework will have more information to select the levels of cybersecurity it wishes to implement and to self-assess its progress in reaching those levels.

NIST has also worked to provide more resources to make the Framework immediately relevant to small and medium businesses, which often do not have dedicated risk managers. Beyond the content of the Framework, a lot has changed with respect to awareness and adoption since it was first published in 2014. The word has gotten out.

PBN: In a press release recently, you said: “Cybersecurity is not just a technical issue, and an understanding of the economics of controls is essential if we expect companies to adopt them voluntarily.” Can you elaborate?

LANGEVIN: Of course, technology is at the core of cybersecurity. In a broader sense, however, cybersecurity is just part of risk management. Businesses generally excel at assessing competitive and market-driven risks, [such as] the risk that a disruptive technology will reduce demand for their product or service.

Unfortunately, we still lack the ability to describe cybersecurity risks in similar business terms. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework describes steps organizations can take to reduce their risk, but that guidance needs to be coupled with better cost-benefit information to help executives – and board members – prioritize cybersecurity investments.

PBN: What do you think is most generally misunderstood about the topic of cybersecurity?

LANGEVIN: There are, unfortunately, some who believe they have nothing to worry about because no malicious cyber actor has a reason to target them. Conversely, there are doomsayers who insist that no amount of cybersecurity will protect you from a determined adversary. The reality is somewhere in between.

There are basic defensive steps – often called “cyber hygiene” – that we should all take to improve our cybersecurity. Using unique passwords – or even better, a password manager, keeping software up to date with patches, maintaining offline backups of valuable data and scrutinizing links in emails or texts before clicking on them are a few examples. Everyone should realize that they’re a target. But they should also feel empowered to take steps to protect themselves.

PBN: What more needs to be done?

LANGEVIN: One thing I hear over and over again is that we need to strengthen our cybersecurity workforce, because the demand for cyber skills in every sector is staggering. That’s why I’ve been proud to introduce and co-sponsor several bills to expand cybersecurity scholarships, apprenticeships and training. I also believe we need a national standard for notifying consumers when their private data has been breached, which is what my Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would provide.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.

Bloomberg: Election Security a Top Concern, Trump Officials Assure Lawmakers

Bloomberg: Election Security a Top Concern, Trump Officials Assure Lawmakers

By Nafeesa Syeed and Anna Edgerton

The Trump administration sought to assure lawmakers on Tuesday that it’s working with states to ensure the security of U.S. elections after Democrats raised concerns that the government isn’t doing enough.

“This is an issue that the Administration takes seriously and is addressing with urgency,” according to a joint statement Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray released after top intelligence officials briefed House members behind closed doors. The officials said they highlighted efforts to protect “critical infrastructure” for elections.

Democrats have questioned whether the Trump administration has acted forcefully enough to prevent other countries from meddling with U.S. election results after intelligence agencies concluded that Russia sought to help President Donald Trump and hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest. Russia denies the accusations.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, said after the meeting that “I don’t feel confident” that the Homeland Security Department and other agencies are doing enough to secure future elections. Much of the briefing focused on Russia, but there are “others out there” seeking to do the same thing, he said.

“I didn’t walk away thinking that we’re there yet” in terms of being prepared, he said.

Read more: Hack-Resistant Vote Machines Missing as States Gird for ’18 Vote

The briefing comes as primary elections are underway Tuesday in Arkansas, Georgia Kentucky and Texas.

James Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said after the briefing that “states have had better interaction with the federal government than they did prior to the 2016 election but there are still weaknesses in the system,” especially making sure there’s a paper trail. He said about 50 lawmakers attended the meeting and some raised questions about specific information the government has about efforts by Russia to interfere with elections.
Nielsen said after Tuesday’s meeting that Russians have sought to “manipulate public confidence on both sides” and that “we see them continuing to conduct influence campaigns.”

Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said Russia’s goal is to “create chaos” and not help a specific candidate.

Cyber Scans

House Speaker Paul Ryan organized the classified meeting. Trump held his own briefing May 3 with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Wray and others to discuss efforts to bolster the country’s election systems and how to work with states.

DHS is offering states voluntary cyber services, including remote checks of their election systems and on-site vulnerability assessments. It’s also granting security clearances to election officials, though they haven’t all been finalized.

States are now deciding how to use their share of $380 million in federal election security grants that came with the omnibus spending package earlier this year. But it’s hardly enough to update aging voting equipment in most states ahead of the November polls, and many state officials are hoping Congress will approve more dollars.

Also this month, the Senate Intelligence panel issued its first interim report on election security. While confessing its members lacked a firm grasp on the extent of hacking into voter systems in 2016, the committee said the U.S. should “clearly communicate to adversaries that an attack on our election infrastructure is a hostile act, and we will respond accordingly.”

A group of former U.S. and European officials, including ex-Vice President Joe Biden, who say governments haven’t sufficiently addressed election security threats have started the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, which plans its first meeting in Copenhagen on June 21-22. The group aims to conduct studies on how to better reduce risks to elections from Russian cyber threats, including looking at new technologies, and share their findings with governments.

Every House seat is on the ballot in November general elections, along with a third of Senate seats.

Homeland Preparedness News: Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

Homeland Preparedness News: Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

By Kevin Randolph

U.S. Reps. James Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) recently introduced the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act.

The bill would enable Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Joint Task Force to improve coordination of the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States. It encourages DHS to collaborate with private sector entities, such as parcel carriers, on creating the task force.

“The opioid emergency gripping our nation is an incredibly complex problem that requires collaboration across agencies and our private sector partners to stem the tide of this epidemic,” Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. “Rhode Islanders and Americans across the country are looking for solutions to prevent the trafficking of these opioids and reduce the human toll of this crisis. I’m proud to join Representative King and Senator McCaskill in introducing a bill that will help the Department in its effort to track, interdict, and prevent the proliferation of these highly addictive and deadly narcotics in our communities.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security is currently authorized to create Joint Task Forces for various purposes related to securing the United States’ land and maritime borders.

The bill would expand those authorizations to allow task forces established to combat fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

“Joint Task Forces require agencies to put their heads together in order to make a real impact—it’s a valuable tool that can and should be brought to bear on this ongoing national public health crisis,” McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “Communities and families across Missouri are being ravaged, and I’ll continue to support any tool we’ve got to help address this epidemic.”

In 2016, approximately 42,000 people in the United States died due to opioid-related drug overdoses. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report studied opioid overdoses in 10 states and found that more than half of the deaths were related to illicitly produced fentanyl. Ninety percent of illegally produced fentanyl is manufactured in China.

WaPo: The Cybersecurity 202: We surveyed 100 security experts. Almost all said state election systems were vulnerable.

WaPo: The Cybersecurity 202: We surveyed 100 security experts. Almost all said state election systems were vulnerable.

By Derek Hawkins

The midterm elections are less than six months away, but an overwhelming 95 percent of digital security experts surveyed by The Cybersecurity 202 say state election systems are not sufficiently protected against cyberthreats. 

We brought together a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity leaders from across government, the private sector, academia and the research community for a new feature called The Network — an ongoing, informal survey in which experts will weigh in on some of the most pressing issues of the field. (You can see the full list of experts here. Some were granted anonymity in exchange for their participation.) Our first survey revealed deep concerns that states aren’t prepared to defend themselves against the types of cyberattacks that disrupted the 2016 presidential election, when Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 states.

“We are going to need more money and more guidance on how to effectively defend against the sophisticated adversaries we are facing to get our risk down to acceptable levels,” said one of the experts, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

Congress in March approved $380 million for all 50 states and five territories to secure their election systems, but Langevin says he wants more. He introduced legislation with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that would provide election security funding to states if they adhere to new federal guidelines for identifying weaknesses in their systems and auditing election results. “I hope Congress continues to work to address this vital national security issue,” Langevin said.

Each state is responsible for running its own elections, and many state officials view attempts by the federal government to intervene with skepticism — if not outrightopposition. But some experts said the magnitude of the threats from state-sponsored adversaries is too great for states to deal with alone.

“Given the gravity of the nation-state threats we face, much more needs to be done at every level — including a strong declarative policy that this activity is unacceptable and will trigger a strong response,” said Chris Painter, who served as the State Department’s top cyber diplomat during the Obama and Trump administrations.

Dave Aitel, chief executive of Immunity Inc. and a former National Security Agency security scientist, went further: “Protecting systems from cyberthreats from nation-states can really only be done on a national level. It’s insane we have state-level control of these systems.”

Experts generally agreed that most states are more secure than they were in 2016. Officials have undertaken a variety of measures to improve security — including conducting vulnerability tests of computer networks and voting machines and hiring new IT staff.

But securing this kind of technology isn’t easy. “ ‘Election systems’ are massive, distributed IT systems with thousands of endpoints and back-end systems that hold and process large volumes of highly sensitive data,” said Jeff Greene, senior director of global government affairs and policy at Symantec. “Protecting such systems is no small feat, and election systems are no different. While [the Department of Homeland Security] and the state and local governments have in recent years dialed up their efforts, there are no easy fixes.”

Several experts said that state voter registration databases are particularly vulnerable — and make an appealing target for attackers who want to sow confusion and undermine confidence in the voting process.

“The voting machines themselves are only part of the story,” said Matt Blaze, a cryptographer and computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “The ‘back end’ systems, used by states and counties for voter registration and counting ballots, are equally critical to election security, and these systems are often connected, directly or indirectly, to the Internet.”

There’s no evidence that Russian hackers actually changed any votes in 2016, but they did probe online voter rolls and even breached the statewide voter database in Illinois.“Few if any state and local IT departments are equipped to protect this infrastructure against the full force of a hostile intelligence service, and these systems are very attractive targets for disruption,” Blaze said.

“The level of expertise is quite uneven” across the states, added Daniel Weitzner, founding director of the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative who was U.S. deputy chief technology officer for Internet policy during the Obama administration. “Of particular concern is the voter registration systems. Imagine how much fear, uncertainty and doubt [that] Russia or any other malicious actor could sow if they raise questions about the accuracy of the voting rolls. That’s every bit as bad as actually changing votes, and much easier to do.”

Jay Kaplan, co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Synack, notes a bright spot: The Election Assistance Commission has a national voting system certification program to independently verify that a voting system meets security requirements.

“However, testing for this certification is completely optional,” said Kaplan, who held previous roles in the Defense Department and at the National Security Agency. “States can set their own standards for voting systems…. As such, some states are significantly more buttoned up than others. The reality is states are understaffed, underfunded, and are too heavily reliant on election-system vendors securing their own systems.”

On top of that, millions of Americans will vote this year on old, hack-prone digital machines that produce no paper trail. Without a paper record, it’s nearly impossible to audit the final vote tally. Federal officials and expertsrecommend scrapping such machines in favor of paper ballots.

Too many states “have taken a less than strategic approach and once again waited too long to start addressing vulnerabilities within their processes and technology,” said Mark Weatherford, a former deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration and chief information security officer in both California and Colorado.

“Additionally, because of significant investments in electronic voting technology, it’s difficult for non-technologists to acknowledge economic sunk costs and re-prioritize current funding to address these … problems,” said Weatherford, a senior vice president and chief cybersecurity strategist at vArmour.

Nico Sell, co-founder of the software maker Wickr, put the problem into perspective: “We will teach the kids how to hack the election system this summer at r00tz at Def Con,” she said. (r00tz is an ethical hacking program for children between 8 and 16 years old held in Las Vegas alongside the Def Con security conference.)

Many experts are worried that states lack the resources to build their defenses in time for the midterms, even with more federal assistance. “What isn’t clear is where our defenses and resiliency have improved if at all,” said Jessy Irwin, head of security at Tendermint. “This is a difficult problem to solve, and it takes something we don’t have enough of to get 50 states and a few territories flying in formation: time.”

Less than five percent of experts who responded to the survey said they were confident that state election systems were well protected.

Cris Thomas, who goes by the name Space Rogue and works for IBM X-Force Red, said that while registration databases, websites and other systems may still be vulnerable, “the election systems themselves are sufficiently protected.”

And the patchwork nature of U.S. elections is actually a bonus when it comes to deterring would-be attackers, said one expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“State balloting systems are diverse and decentralized. They’re administered by some 3,000 counties, making it difficult for malicious actors to uniformly attack voting infrastructure on a vast scale,” the expert said.

That expert was satisfied with the efforts by state and federal officials to secure the vote. “Public and private authorities are taking steps to defend against nation-state attacks. The recent omnibus spending bill provides monies to states for election security; threat data are being shared between states and federal agencies (albeit probably slowly and tentatively); and election officials are utilizing best practices, such as conducting post-election audits and not connecting voting machines to the Internet,” the expert said.

“But bolstering our cyberdefenses, however fundamental, will only take us so far,” the expert added. “The White House needs to authorize agencies to disrupt cyberattacks and information operations at their sources and up the ante for prospective attackers as part of America’s broader deterrence posture.”

As another expert who participated in the survey put it:“The high level of interest has led to more eyes on the process, which itself helps deter would-be hackers.”

Elite Daily: Can The 2018 Elections Be Hacked? Experts Think So, & Here We Go Again

Elite Daily: Can The 2018 Elections Be Hacked? Experts Think So, & Here We Go Again

By Bernadette Deron

With the 2018 midterm elections approaching this fall (and primaries going on throughout the year — check your local elections), the question of whether or not the United States’ voting systems are secure enough to ensure correct results is being widely debated. The Washington Post elected to interview a number of experts on whether or not they believe the upcoming elections can be hacked. According to a majority of those cybersecurity experts, the 2018 midterms are at risk of being hacked, which is just great.

The report published by the Post on May 21 featured quotes and statistics from a panel of over 100 cybersecurity experts from the government, academia, the private sector, and the research community. According to the report, 95 percent of the experts do not believe that state election systems are sufficiently protected from cyberthreats.

In an interview with NBC News on Feb. 8, head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security Jeanette Manfra revealed that Russian hackers reportedly targeted 21 states prior to the 2016 presidential election, and that “an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.” Back in September 2017, the federal government notified election officials from those 21 states that their systems were targeted by Russian agents during the elections the year before.

In response to these reports, the spending bill that Congress passed on March 22 included a whopping $380 million devoted to ramping up cybersecurity in order to prevent state voting systems from any sort of cyberattack. But not everyone in Congress thinks that this is enough funding to prevent elections from getting compromised by foreign agents. We are going to need more money and more guidance on how to effectively defend against the sophisticated adversaries we are facing to get our risk down to acceptable levels,” Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) told the Post. Langevin also co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. If a person with as much authority on this issue as Langevin thinks more needs to be done to protect this country’s elections, it’s definitely something to take seriously.

The impact of the hacks from the 2016 presidential election has not yet been determined. But the fact that foreign agents were able to successfully hack some systems signals that the government should be working harder to ensure that elections in this country are fair and free.

Because the 2018 midterms are so important for both sides of the aisle, it’s imperative that the outcomes of those elections are secure and correct. The problem with current voting systems is that they’re not uniform across the entire country, making some polling counties more vulnerable than others. Those smaller counties could amount to a significant number of compromised votes, which in turn has enough weight to sway an election in one direction or another.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs come November, and 48 of those seats are considered to be competitive, according to The New York Times. In order for the Democrats to regain control of the House, they would need to flip at least 24 seats that are currently controlled by Republicans. The Senate is currently divided 51-49 in favor of Republicans, and Democrats might be able to pull off a Senate majority win following the midterms as well. Although it’s not entirely likely that Democrats will regain control of both chambers of Congress, the tight races in each prove how crucial it is to ensure that state elections are appropriately protected.

The nation is just six months away from the midterm elections, and primaries have been going on. Hopefully, the appropriate authorities are doing what they can to protect your vote.