Hackers at convention test voting systems for bugs

This piece originally appeared on Reuters.com on August 10, 2018.

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Def Con, one of the world’s largest security conventions, served as a laboratory for breaking into voting machines on Friday, extending its efforts to identify potential security flaws in technology that may be used in the November U.S. elections.

Hackers will continue to probe the systems over the weekend in a bid to discover new vulnerabilities, which could be turned over to voting machine makers to fix.

The three-day Las Vegas-based “Voting Village” also aimed to expose security issues in digital poll books

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US officials hope hackers at Defcon find more voting machine problems

This piece originally appeared on CNET on August 10, 2018.

by Alfred Ng

This election day, US officials are hoping for a vote of confidence on cybersecurity.

Hackers at the Defcon cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas on Friday took on voting machines again, after showing how easy it was to break into election machines at last year’s gathering. This time around, officials from the US Department of Homeland Security were on hand to learn directly from hackers who find problems with election security.

“We’ve been partners with Defcon for years on a lot of various different issues, so we see … Read More

At DEF CON ’18, kids as young as 5 challenged to hack election results websites, voting machines

This piece originally appeared on ABC News on August 10, 2018.

By LEE HARRIS

This year’s DEF CON kicks off Friday in Las Vegas, and hackers will again have access to dozens of pieces of equipment — voting machines and pollbooks widely used in U.S. elections, including several models they haven’t previously attempted to crack.

Children as young as 5 … Read More

DHS’ Big Data Integration Challenge

This piece originally appeared on The Cipher Brief on August 8, 2018. 

BY FRANCIS X. TAYLOR

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently traveled from Washington D.C. to New York with her senior team in tow, to announce the creation of the National Risk Management Center.  It is intended to be DHS’ tip of the spear when it comes to information sharing between the public and private sectors about emerging and sometimes urgent, cyber security threats. 

In an opinion piece posted on CNBC, Nielsen said that the U.S. is not “connecting the dots” quickly enough and said “Between government

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PERSPECTIVE: National Vetting Center a Needed, Not Controversial, Security Asset

This piece originally appeared on Homeland Security Today on June 11, 2018. 

  Francis X. Taylor

For decades the U.S. has screened and vetted those who wish to enter the United States or apply to come to U.S. as visitors, immigrants or refugees. While technology and threats have changed, what has remained the same is the need for our officials on the front lines to have the most up-to- date and accurate information to decide who should or should not be allowed to enter our country.

To that end, earlier this year the National Vetting Center (NVC) was created to … Read More

Senators Want Dumber Tech For Energy Grid Cybersecurity

This piece originally appeared on NextGov.com on March 9, 2018.

By Aaron Boyd

Legislation to dumb-down the nation’s electrical grid in the name of cybersecurity advanced out of a Senate committee on Thursday, bringing a retro approach to securing critical infrastructure one step closer to passage.

The Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, cosponsored by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, advanced out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on a voice vote. The central provision of the bill is a pilot program led by the director of the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the

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Russia Sees Midterm Elections as Chance to Sow Fresh Discord, Intelligence Chiefs Warn

This piece originally appeared on The New York Times on February 13, 2018. 

By Matthew RosenbergCharlie Savage and Michael Wines

WASHINGTON — Russia is already meddling in the midterm elections this year, the top American intelligence officials said on Tuesday, warning that Moscow is using a digital strategy to worsen the country’s political and social divisions.

Russia is using fake accounts on social media — many of them bots — to spread disinformation, the officials said. European elections are being targeted, too, and the attacks were not likely to end this year, they warned.

“We expect Russia to

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Firewalling democracy: Federal inaction on a national security priority

This piece originally appeared on The Hill on January 31, 2018. 

January marked the first anniversary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s designation of elections as “critical infrastructure,” placing them into the category of other physical or virtual sectors — such as food, water and energy — considered so crucial that their protection is necessary to our national security. Naming “elections” as a critical infrastructure sub-sector was a key action taken by then-Secretary Jeh Johnson following an Intelligence Community report about ways Russia sought to meddle in the 2016 elections via a variety … Read More

Feds Team with Foreign Policy Experts to Assess US Election Security

This post originally appeared on Dark Reading on January 18, 2018. 

By Steve Zurier

Expert panel lays out potential risks for the 2018 election cycle and beyond

Speaking at a panel on election security in Chicago last night, Douglas Lute, former US Ambassador to NATO, said he remains very concerned that Russian interference in the 2016 elections has eroded the public’s confidence in the election system, the cornerstone of the American democracy.

“What happened in the 2016 election is as serious a national security threat as I’ve seen in the last 40 years,” said Lute. “When you think of events … Read More

The federal government had a plan to combat right-wing violence. Trump axed it in June.

This piece originally appeared on Mic.com on August 16, 2017.

As outcry continues to mount over President Donald Trump’s latest round of comments about the domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, an outstanding question for many Americans is one about policy: What, if anything, will the federal government do to help combat far-right white extremism?

The Obama Administration had implemented at least the beginnings of such a plan while in office but, in late June, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security eliminated a federal grant of $400,000 for Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization working to de-radicalize … Read More