States, National Guard Team-up to Increase Election Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has become a serious concern for state officials in preparation for this year’s upcoming midterm elections. As the nation’s election system continues to age, many say there are not enough funds available to make all of the needed improvements. Some states have gotten creative to improve their election cybersecurity, including using resources from the National Guard.

In West Virginia, Secretary of State Mac Warner announced a partnership between his office and the West Virginia National Guard, which would allow guardsman who are trained in cybersecurity to aid the secretary of state’s office in monitoring election threats. “We will use every resource available to protect our democratic process, ensure voting accuracy, protect voter’s private information, and give the confidence that our state agencies are working together to combat every threat,” Warner said in the statement.

The National Guard was also tapped to work on security for the 2016 election. The Ohio National Guard worked to find potential weaknesses in their election system. Ohio Secretary of State John Husted in an interview at the time said, “We want to be tested.”

Federal efforts are being made to utilize the National Guard for cybersecurity. A bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress late last year that would create cybersecurity teams through the National Guard in every state, which would be tasked with providing assistance in responding to online attacks.

Considering the recent, high-profile cybersecurity attacks, such as the Equifax data breach and the ransomware attack on Atlanta’s online systems, along with the vital function of protecting election integrity, cybersecurity will remain a critical issue for states to address.