Florida Invests in Security Controls Ahead of #Election2020

Florida has invested $14.6m in securing its county election offices

Pinellas county supervisor of elections, Julie Marcus, told ABC Action News it is putting resources into detecting, monitoring and responding to cyber-threats, after it was determined by the Mueller investigation that, in 2016, the Russian military intelligence agency sent spear-phishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county officials.

This led to two Florida counties being attacked, but state officials did not reveal which. Guy Garrett, assistant director of University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity, which helped state election officials identify and fix vulnerabilities, said “what the bad guys were after at that point was actually the voter database. Fortunately, we were able to get dollars through grants in the legislature to address those problems.”

This led to the $14.6m investment in Florida’s 67 counties, although election supervisors were required to sign confidentiality agreements regarding exactly how that money would be spent.

Marcus said the tabulation system, which counts votes, cannot be hacked as the system is unconnected to the internet, “and it’s protected under multiple layers of security.”

Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said: “I would be extremely surprised if we go through the election without a security or technical hitch. Even if the system can handle the deluge of information all on one day, there will be multiple attempts to knock it over to even cast the smallest of doubt on the outcome.

“At least Florida has learned from its previous mistakes which cannot be said for all organizations after an attack. Proactive defense works as a far better insurance and there is no space for error with this election which will undoubtedly be targeted with an array of different attacks looking for the weakest links.”

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