DHS Officials Describe ‘Full Court Press’ on Election Security

DHS Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is focusing intently on a range of activities to help ensure the security of next week’s mid-term congressional elections, DHS officials said today at an event organized by Fifth Domain.

“What we have going on right now is a full court press in support” of state and local election authorities, said Boyden Rohner, director of cybersecurity operations in DHS’s Information Security Office.

Part of that security push, she said, is a “definite increase” in the tempo of threat data sharing with state, local, and election vendor officials. And, Rohner said, DHS is working with the Defense Department (DoD) “to see what we would do” if civilian election infrastructure were to be “overwhelmed.”

Just today, Rohner attended a meeting to onboard 11 DoD officials into the election security effort, which she said involves “trying to get a common lexicon” between the two agencies “in case anything happens.”

The boost in election security work over the past two years, she said, is likely to pay dividends past next week as DHS hopes to replicate similar efforts across other critical infrastructure sectors.

Speaking separately at today’s event, Richard Driggers, deputy assistant secretary of DHS’ Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, said the agency has made “meaningful progress since 2016” on assisting state and local officials to evaluate and improve security of election infrastructure, and added, “we continue to make progress today.”

That work, he said, also won’t wind down after next week, because DHS is looking to the next national election cycle in 2020 to make further improvements.

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