National Guard cybersquad to help secure Delaware election

(Soumil Kumar/Pexels)

(Soumil Kumar/Pexels)

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It seems as if the topic of election interference has rivaled policy debate this campaign season, from accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, to reports that agents in Iran sent threatening emails to voters in Florida and elsewhere.

More email attacks could be coming, according to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who sounded the warning after announcing Iran and Russia had acquired data on U.S. voters.

Days before that threat was announced, Delaware Gov. John Carney issued an executive order authorizing the Delaware National Guard Cybersecurity Squadron to help fend off possible digital attacks against the state.

“We receive direct threats every day. Regularly, we block as much or more traffic than we actually let through, whether it’s election season or not,” said Jason Clark, the state’s acting chief information officer. “What election season does, it does make the election system itself somewhat of a target. We have not seen any specific targeting of our election systems here in Delaware to date.”

The National Guard is helping the state Department of Technology and Information stay on guard if and when those attacks happen.

“The partnership is still somewhat limited in terms of hands on keys, but they do focus on the threat modeling, they make recommendations to detect potential threat,” Clark said.

The Guard helped out in a more limited role in the 2018 election, but had less involvement because there was no executive order authorizing it to act.

“We will not take for granted the right to cast a vote and to have that vote counted,” Carney said. “We have an obligation to take additional steps to protect that right from any cyberthreats. This executive order is a proactive measure to do just that.”

Though the state is using new voting machines for this year’s election, they’re not connected to the internet and are less vulnerable to attack than the Department of Election’s website or the state’s main site.

“We’re confident that we’re leveraging all avenues of support that we have here in the state of Delaware to ensure a secure election,” Clark said.

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“We will not take for granted the right to cast a vote and to have that vote counted,” Carney said. “We have an obligation to take additional steps to protect that right from any cyberthreats. This executive order is a proactive measure to do just that.”

Though the state is using new voting machines for this year’s election, they’re not connected to the internet and are less vulnerable to attack than the Department of Election’s website or the state’s main site.

“We’re confident that we’re leveraging all avenues of support that we have here in the state of Delaware to ensure a secure election,” Clark said.

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