The Billington CyberSecurity Summit closed out day two with a discussion with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Senior Election Security Advisor, Kim Wyman, on the necessity of voting infrastructure protection in the upcoming national elections.
Wyman is optimistic about where CISA stands in its partnerships and communication efforts with state, local, and Federal government election officials compared to 2016.
“We’ve come a long way since 2016 as a subsector of critical infrastructure,” Wyman said. “I think one of the things we’re doing much better is the partnerships that have been developed, not only with state, local, and Federal government, but even within information sharing.”
All state officials can refer to CISA’s Election Infrastructure Information Sharing Assessment Center for “actionable intelligence and information” that is dispersed to election sites in “a really timely manner,” so they can act on and respond to security breaches of any kind, she said.
“All of this is just communication we didn’t have back in 2016,” Wyman said.
Wyman said that CISA has worked with all 50 states to ensure they have the necessary tools to combat, or even avoid, election interference. This often looks like foreign influence campaigns, cyberattacks from adversaries trying to hack into systems, or even physical threats.
All these security issues disrupt voters’ ability to vote, and election officials’ ability to do their jobs, which in turn undermines the democratic process, she said.
“The biggest challenge is this interconnectivity of mis, dis, and malinformation, cyber threats, and physical security,” Wyman said. “One of the focuses we have at CISA is trying to build resilience in all of those areas: helping local jurisdictions and states have that resilience of being able to prevent and protect their systems, but if something should happen, being able to respond and recover.”
The CISA official is confident in the states’ “security measures they have built-in and the checks and balances they have built-in” to protect them against these attacks.
When asked what a successful election will look like in November 2022, Wyman reiterated cyber resiliency, but encouraged the audience to get back to the basics of civics.
“Success is every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast their ballot, and their ballot gets cast correctly, and counted correctly, and reported correctly,” she said. “And any of the glitches or things that might happen on election day are overcome with good plans, and that resilience that election officials have been working to build.”