#RSAC: Election Protection is CISA’s Top Priority for Next 18 Months

Nation-state backed cyber-criminals are well known to target elections and attempt to influence or disrupt the democratic process. For CISA, the protection of the looming 2024 election is now a top priority in an effort to protect democracy.

“This is our top priority over the next year and a half,” Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA. “We have cybersecurity advisors across the country who every day are meeting with secretaries of state and state and local election officials to make sure that they are getting the right assessments information services to meet their needs.”

CISA also has a centralized support team that is working on ensuring that the agency has focus on developing the right information and guidance surrounding electoral cybersecurity.

“As we collectively identify threat activity that could target the election, or state and local election organizations, we are going to make sure that we share that information immediately and provide any information needed to help them harden well ahead of the election,” Goldstein added in response to Infosecurity’s question.

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Speaking about the nature of the threat actors targeting the electoral process, US Army Maj. Gen. William J. Hartman, Commander for Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), USCYBERCOM, noted, “Generally speaking nation-states do not create new malicious cyber actors in order to influence elections.”

“They have existing malicious cyber-actors, and they reprioritize what they are doing based on our election cycle,” he said.

Hartman emphasized that the effort to stop these malicious actors does not stop and the CNMF continuously develops its understanding of what the adversaries are doing.

“Our intent in 2024 is just like in 2022 and 2020, and 2018, is to ensure that we're positioned in order to protect our democratic processes from the most likely malicious cyber actors that we think are will be placed to threaten us,” he added.

In October 2022, the FBI warned that an Iranian-backed cyber group Emennet Pasargad had carried out cyber-enabled information operations that targeted the 2020 US Presidential election.

On April 25, 2023, Joe Biden announced his 2024 re-election campaign on behalf of the US Democratic party. Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are currently frontrunners for the Republican Party Presidential nominee. 

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