Attacks on our electoral process are only going to get bigger “due to the increase of mail-in ballots and absentee ballots across the country,” said Christopher Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. “That attack surface that’s going to exist after November 3rd will allow actors to delegitimize the results and, ultimately, the process.”
So, will your vote count?
That is the question that many Americans have as the country heads into a highly competitive presidential election. It was also the question Krebs and others addressed during an October 12 virtual discussion called “2020 Vision: Will My Vote Count?,” hosted by the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and National Security at the Schar School of Policy and Government. Watch the recording.
With mail-in voting the go-to method of casting a ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with more Americans receiving information about their government over the internet than ever before, people were bound to have concerns about election security. The panelists discussed what might be done to thwart any tampering with the election and what is being done about it right now.
Guests included Dimitri Alperovitch, former chief technology officer of California-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike; Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German-Marshall Fund of the United States; and CISA’s Krebs. Distinguished Visiting Professor Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA, moderated.
Among the questions asked: Might we deter foreign saboteurs from continuing their assault on our democratic values? “I think it needs to be an important element in our toolkit,” Alperovitch said. “And I don’t mean doing exactly what they are doing. You never want to punch back in exactly the same way. We need to find the pain points—they are different for every adversary, what they really care about—and push on those pain points to show them that we too can inflict pain on them, and [that their actions] are not costless.
“I don’t think we’ve figured this out yet,” Alperovitch concluded.
“Russia’s doctrine has so many of these tactics baked into the strategy,” Rosenberger pointed out. “Similarly, with China’s doctrine and Iran’s doctrine, it’s really hard to kind of peel these pieces off from a cost-efficient perspective. What I don’t think we’ve done is nearly enough coordination with our partners and allies in imposing costs in a coordinated way, that would have a broader squeeze on these actors.”
“The bottom line is, when it comes to media, you need to be able to evaluate where its coming from.”