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Homeland Security Sees No 'Nefarious Activity' Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

ELECTION INTEGRITY

Homeland Security Sees No ‘Nefarious Activity’ Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

In the months since the 2016 election, DHS officials have had ‘a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.’

03.12.18 5:25 AM ET

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

It’s apparently all quiet on the election front. Bob Kolasky, a Department of Homeland Security official working on election cybersecurity issues, told The Daily Beast that DHS hasn’t seen evidence of foreign actors attempting to hack American election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“We have not seen anything in the 2018 election, no,” Kolasky told The Daily Beast last week in an exclusive interview. “We have not seen any significant nefarious activity.”

Preparing to counter nefarious activity has been a major project for DHS since the 2016 general election, when the Kremlin launched an information attack[3] on the United States. The American Intelligence Community concluded in January 2017[4] that Russian-backed actors stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and also launching a wide-ranging social media campaign using stolen American identities. And last September[5], DHS told 21 states that Kremlin-backed operatives also tried to compromise their voter databases.

Kolasky told The Daily Beast that the biggest change at DHS since the 2016 election has been efforts to build closer relationships with state and local election officials. In the last election cycle, those relationships had been lacking.

“Part of that problem was that the [2016] attacks were not on states, they were on local systems, and DHS claimed to have contacted the local systems,” said Jim Condos, Vermont secretary of state and president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We struggled with them in one of our meetings—talking with them for an hour, trying to get them to understand. This is the criticism from the beginning of 2016. DHS did not understand how the election system worked.”

Condos continued, “We tried to them that if one state is attacked, all are attacked. If a local system is attacked, the whole state is attacked—and other states need to be in communications with one another.”

Kolasky said that Homeland Security has come a long way since 2016.

“We’ve gotten to really learn and understand the way that elections are conducted,” Kolasky said. “We have a richer understanding of the election management systems: the way they run processes and the best way to share information with them.”

In the months since the 2016 mess, he said DHS[6] officials have had “a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.” And, Kolasky added, senior department officials have met with most states’ top election officials.

Another major change has been getting state and local election officials security clearances so they can view classified information about election threats. Kolasky said that the department made clearances available to more than 160 election officials in September, and that 19 have received clearances clearances so far.

“DHS is in the process of doing that for all 50 states,” said former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson. “States need to request the clearance, but DHS is expediting the process.”

“Secretary Lawson, along with other secretaries of state, is in the process of obtaining a security clearance that will allow her greater access to sensitive information,” said Ian Hauer, deputy communications director for Indiana’s secretary of state. “In return, we’re educating DHS on our state and local-level cyber-protections and offering feedback on the systems they have set up.”

And in February, Kolasky added, a host of officials got temporary one-day clearances for a briefing on election threats.

And while President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism[7] that the Russian government threatened the 2016 election, Kolasky said the White House’s National Security Council has been a major partner in DHS’ efforts to block future election attacks. They have been especially helpful with bringing different federal agencies together, he said. He added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who formerly headed DHS, has played a role in the work.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, a low-profile component of DHS, has taken on the task of securing elections. The arm of DHS, through the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, has provided services to state and local election officials—including cyber hygiene scans and cyber resilience reviews to check their election systems’ security (PDF[8]).

NPPD also funds MS-ISAC[9], a cybersecurity database designed to help states stay up-to-date about threats. The system was just formalized as a means of communication between state and federal agencies for cyberthreats at the Government Coordinating Council meeting.

While many states use NPPD’s services, they aren’t mandatory (the feds wouldn’t have the power to require them even if they wanted to).

When state, local, and federal operations are all attempting to work together to protect themselves from an unpredictable and evolving force, communication has been key to get a grip on the learning curve before the 2018 midterms arrive. All parties say they know the risks involved if they don’t.

“Every event or conference I have attended, the number one conversation I have with state officials is about securing the system, and what additional resources are available,” Masterson said. “There’s been a heightened awareness since 2016.”

References

  1. ^ Betsy Woodruff (www.thedailybeast.com)
  2. ^ Julia Arciga (www.thedailybeast.com)
  3. ^ information attack (www.thedailybeast.com)
  4. ^ concluded in January 2017 (www.fbi.gov)
  5. ^ last September (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ DHS (www.thedailybeast.com)
  7. ^ expressed skepticism (www.thedailybeast.com)
  8. ^ PDF (www.eac.gov)
  9. ^ MS-ISAC (www.cisecurity.org)
0

Homeland Security Sees No 'Nefarious Activity' Threatening …

ELECTION INTEGRITY

Homeland Security Sees No ‘Nefarious Activity’ Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

In the months since the 2016 election, DHS officials have had ‘a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.’

03.12.18 5:25 AM ET

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

It’s apparently all quiet on the election front. Bob Kolasky, a Department of Homeland Security official working on election cybersecurity issues, told The Daily Beast that DHS hasn’t seen evidence of foreign actors attempting to hack American election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“We have not seen anything in the 2018 election, no,” Kolasky told The Daily Beast last week in an exclusive interview. “We have not seen any significant nefarious activity.”

Preparing to counter nefarious activity has been a major project for DHS since the 2016 general election, when the Kremlin launched an information attack[3] on the United States. The American Intelligence Community concluded in January 2017[4] that Russian-backed actors stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and also launching a wide-ranging social media campaign using stolen American identities. And last September[5], DHS told 21 states that Kremlin-backed operatives also tried to compromise their voter databases.

Kolasky told The Daily Beast that the biggest change at DHS since the 2016 election has been efforts to build closer relationships with state and local election officials. In the last election cycle, those relationships had been lacking.

“Part of that problem was that the [2016] attacks were not on states, they were on local systems, and DHS claimed to have contacted the local systems,” said Jim Condos, Vermont secretary of state and president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We struggled with them in one of our meetings—talking with them for an hour, trying to get them to understand. This is the criticism from the beginning of 2016. DHS did not understand how the election system worked.”

Condos continued, “We tried to them that if one state is attacked, all are attacked. If a local system is attacked, the whole state is attacked—and other states need to be in communications with one another.”

Kolasky said that Homeland Security has come a long way since 2016.

“We’ve gotten to really learn and understand the way that elections are conducted,” Kolasky said. “We have a richer understanding of the election management systems: the way they run processes and the best way to share information with them.”

In the months since the 2016 mess, he said DHS[6] officials have had “a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.” And, Kolasky added, senior department officials have met with most states’ top election officials.

Another major change has been getting state and local election officials security clearances so they can view classified information about election threats. Kolasky said that the department made clearances available to more than 160 election officials in September, and that 19 have received clearances clearances so far.

“DHS is in the process of doing that for all 50 states,” said former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson. “States need to request the clearance, but DHS is expediting the process.”

“Secretary Lawson, along with other secretaries of state, is in the process of obtaining a security clearance that will allow her greater access to sensitive information,” said Ian Hauer, deputy communications director for Indiana’s secretary of state. “In return, we’re educating DHS on our state and local-level cyber-protections and offering feedback on the systems they have set up.”

And in February, Kolasky added, a host of officials got temporary one-day clearances for a briefing on election threats.

And while President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism[7] that the Russian government threatened the 2016 election, Kolasky said the White House’s National Security Council has been a major partner in DHS’ efforts to block future election attacks. They have been especially helpful with bringing different federal agencies together, he said. He added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who formerly headed DHS, has played a role in the work.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, a low-profile component of DHS, has taken on the task of securing elections. The arm of DHS, through the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, has provided services to state and local election officials—including cyber hygiene scans and cyber resilience reviews to check their election systems’ security (PDF[8]).

NPPD also funds MS-ISAC[9], a cybersecurity database designed to help states stay up-to-date about threats. The system was just formalized as a means of communication between state and federal agencies for cyberthreats at the Government Coordinating Council meeting.

While many states use NPPD’s services, they aren’t mandatory (the feds wouldn’t have the power to require them even if they wanted to).

When state, local, and federal operations are all attempting to work together to protect themselves from an unpredictable and evolving force, communication has been key to get a grip on the learning curve before the 2018 midterms arrive. All parties say they know the risks involved if they don’t.

“Every event or conference I have attended, the number one conversation I have with state officials is about securing the system, and what additional resources are available,” Masterson said. “There’s been a heightened awareness since 2016.”

References

  1. ^ Betsy Woodruff (www.thedailybeast.com)
  2. ^ Julia Arciga (www.thedailybeast.com)
  3. ^ information attack (www.thedailybeast.com)
  4. ^ concluded in January 2017 (www.fbi.gov)
  5. ^ last September (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ DHS (www.thedailybeast.com)
  7. ^ expressed skepticism (www.thedailybeast.com)
  8. ^ PDF (www.eac.gov)
  9. ^ MS-ISAC (www.cisecurity.org)
0

Homeland Security Sees No 'Nefarious Activity' Threatening …

ELECTION INTEGRITY

Homeland Security Sees No ‘Nefarious Activity’ Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

In the months since the 2016 election, DHS officials have had ‘a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.’

03.12.18 5:25 AM ET

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

It’s apparently all quiet on the election front. Bob Kolasky, a Department of Homeland Security official working on election cybersecurity issues, told The Daily Beast that DHS hasn’t seen evidence of foreign actors attempting to hack American election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“We have not seen anything in the 2018 election, no,” Kolasky told The Daily Beast last week in an exclusive interview. “We have not seen any significant nefarious activity.”

Preparing to counter nefarious activity has been a major project for DHS since the 2016 general election, when the Kremlin launched an information attack[3] on the United States. The American Intelligence Community concluded in January 2017[4] that Russian-backed actors stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and also launching a wide-ranging social media campaign using stolen American identities. And last September[5], DHS told 21 states that Kremlin-backed operatives also tried to compromise their voter databases.

Kolasky told The Daily Beast that the biggest change at DHS since the 2016 election has been efforts to build closer relationships with state and local election officials. In the last election cycle, those relationships had been lacking.

“Part of that problem was that the [2016] attacks were not on states, they were on local systems, and DHS claimed to have contacted the local systems,” said Jim Condos, Vermont secretary of state and president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We struggled with them in one of our meetings—talking with them for an hour, trying to get them to understand. This is the criticism from the beginning of 2016. DHS did not understand how the election system worked.”

Condos continued, “We tried to them that if one state is attacked, all are attacked. If a local system is attacked, the whole state is attacked—and other states need to be in communications with one another.”

Kolasky said that Homeland Security has come a long way since 2016.

“We’ve gotten to really learn and understand the way that elections are conducted,” Kolasky said. “We have a richer understanding of the election management systems: the way they run processes and the best way to share information with them.”

In the months since the 2016 mess, he said DHS[6] officials have had “a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.” And, Kolasky added, senior department officials have met with most states’ top election officials.

Another major change has been getting state and local election officials security clearances so they can view classified information about election threats. Kolasky said that the department made clearances available to more than 160 election officials in September, and that 19 have received clearances clearances so far.

“DHS is in the process of doing that for all 50 states,” said former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson. “States need to request the clearance, but DHS is expediting the process.”

“Secretary Lawson, along with other secretaries of state, is in the process of obtaining a security clearance that will allow her greater access to sensitive information,” said Ian Hauer, deputy communications director for Indiana’s secretary of state. “In return, we’re educating DHS on our state and local-level cyber-protections and offering feedback on the systems they have set up.”

And in February, Kolasky added, a host of officials got temporary one-day clearances for a briefing on election threats.

And while President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism[7] that the Russian government threatened the 2016 election, Kolasky said the White House’s National Security Council has been a major partner in DHS’ efforts to block future election attacks. They have been especially helpful with bringing different federal agencies together, he said. He added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who formerly headed DHS, has played a role in the work.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, a low-profile component of DHS, has taken on the task of securing elections. The arm of DHS, through the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, has provided services to state and local election officials—including cyber hygiene scans and cyber resilience reviews to check their election systems’ security (PDF[8]).

NPPD also funds MS-ISAC[9], a cybersecurity database designed to help states stay up-to-date about threats. The system was just formalized as a means of communication between state and federal agencies for cyberthreats at the Government Coordinating Council meeting.

While many states use NPPD’s services, they aren’t mandatory (the feds wouldn’t have the power to require them even if they wanted to).

When state, local, and federal operations are all attempting to work together to protect themselves from an unpredictable and evolving force, communication has been key to get a grip on the learning curve before the 2018 midterms arrive. All parties say they know the risks involved if they don’t.

“Every event or conference I have attended, the number one conversation I have with state officials is about securing the system, and what additional resources are available,” Masterson said. “There’s been a heightened awareness since 2016.”

References

  1. ^ Betsy Woodruff (www.thedailybeast.com)
  2. ^ Julia Arciga (www.thedailybeast.com)
  3. ^ information attack (www.thedailybeast.com)
  4. ^ concluded in January 2017 (www.fbi.gov)
  5. ^ last September (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ DHS (www.thedailybeast.com)
  7. ^ expressed skepticism (www.thedailybeast.com)
  8. ^ PDF (www.eac.gov)
  9. ^ MS-ISAC (www.cisecurity.org)
0

Homeland Security Sees No 'Nefarious Activity' Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

ELECTION INTEGRITY

Homeland Security Sees No ‘Nefarious Activity’ Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

In the months since the 2016 election, DHS officials have had ‘a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.’

03.12.18 5:25 AM ET

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

It’s apparently all quiet on the election front. Bob Kolasky, a Department of Homeland Security official working on election cybersecurity issues, told The Daily Beast that DHS hasn’t seen evidence of foreign actors attempting to hack American election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“We have not seen anything in the 2018 election, no,” Kolasky told The Daily Beast last week in an exclusive interview. “We have not seen any significant nefarious activity.”

Preparing to counter nefarious activity has been a major project for DHS since the 2016 general election, when the Kremlin launched an information attack[3] on the United States. The American Intelligence Community concluded in January 2017[4] that Russian-backed actors stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and also launching a wide-ranging social media campaign using stolen American identities. And last September[5], DHS told 21 states that Kremlin-backed operatives also tried to compromise their voter databases.

Kolasky told The Daily Beast that the biggest change at DHS since the 2016 election has been efforts to build closer relationships with state and local election officials. In the last election cycle, those relationships had been lacking.

“Part of that problem was that the [2016] attacks were not on states, they were on local systems, and DHS claimed to have contacted the local systems,” said Jim Condos, Vermont secretary of state and president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We struggled with them in one of our meetings—talking with them for an hour, trying to get them to understand. This is the criticism from beginning of 2016. DHS did not understand how the election system worked.”

Condos continued, “We tried to them that if one state is attacked, all are attacked. If a local system is attacked, the whole state is attacked—and other states need to be in communications with one another.”

Kolasky said that Homeland Security has come a long way since 2016.

“We’ve gotten to really learn and understand the way that elections are conducted,” Kolasky said. “We have a richer understanding of the election management systems: the way they run processes and the best way to share information with them.”

In the months since the 2016 mess, he said DHS[6] officials have had “a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.” And, Kolasky added, senior department officials have met with most states’ top election officials.

Another major change has been getting state and local election officials security clearances so they can view classified information about election threats. Kolasky said that the department made clearances available to more than 160 election officials in September, and that 19 have received clearances clearances so far.

“DHS is in the process of doing that for all 50 states,” said former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson. “States need to request the clearance, but DHS is expediting the process.”

“Secretary Lawson, along with other secretaries of state, is in the process of obtaining a security clearance that will allow her greater access to sensitive information,” said Ian Hauer, deputy communications director for Indiana’s secretary of state. “In return, we’re educating DHS on our state and local-level cyber-protections and offering feedback on the systems they have set up.”

And in February, Kolasky added, a host of officials got temporary one-day clearances for a briefing on election threats.

And while President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism[7] that the Russian government threatened the 2016 election, Kolasky said the White House’s National Security Council has been a major partner in DHS’ efforts to block future election attacks. They have been especially helpful with bringing different federal agencies together, he said. He added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who formerly headed DHS, has played a role in the work.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, a low-profile component of DHS, has taken on the task of securing elections. The arm of DHS, through the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, has provided services to state and local election officials—including cyber hygiene scans and cyber resilience reviews to check their election systems’ security (PDF[8]).

NPPD also funds MS-ISAC[9], a cybersecurity database designed to help states stay up-to-date about threats. The system was just formalized as a means of communication between state and federal agencies for cyberthreats at the Government Coordinating Council meeting.

While many states use NPPD’s services, they aren’t mandatory (the feds wouldn’t have the power to require them even if they wanted to).

When state, local, and federal operations are all attempting to work together to protect themselves from an unpredictable and evolving force, communication has been key to get a grip on the learning curve before the 2018 midterms arrive. All parties say they know the risks involved if they don’t.

“Every event or conference I have attended, the number one conversation I have with state officials is about securing the system, and what additional resources are available,” Masterson said. “There’s been a heightened awareness since 2016.”

References

  1. ^ Betsy Woodruff (www.thedailybeast.com)
  2. ^ Julia Arciga (www.thedailybeast.com)
  3. ^ information attack (www.thedailybeast.com)
  4. ^ concluded in January 2017 (www.fbi.gov)
  5. ^ last September (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ DHS (www.thedailybeast.com)
  7. ^ expressed skepticism (www.thedailybeast.com)
  8. ^ PDF (www.eac.gov)
  9. ^ MS-ISAC (www.cisecurity.org)
0

Homeland Security Sees No 'Nefarious Activity' Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

ELECTION INTEGRITY

Homeland Security Sees No ‘Nefarious Activity’ Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

In the months since the 2016 election, DHS officials have had ‘a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.’

03.12.18 5:25 AM ET

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

It’s apparently all quiet on the election front. Bob Kolasky, a Department of Homeland Security official working on election cybersecurity issues, told The Daily Beast that DHS hasn’t seen evidence of foreign actors attempting to hack American election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“We have not seen anything in the 2018 election, no,” Kolasky told The Daily Beast last week in an exclusive interview. “We have not seen any significant nefarious activity.”

Preparing to counter nefarious activity has been a major project for DHS since the 2016 general election, when the Kremlin launched an information attack[3] on the United States. The American Intelligence Community concluded in January 2017[4] that Russian-backed actors stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and also launching a wide-ranging social media campaign using stolen American identities. And last September[5], DHS told 21 states that Kremlin-backed operatives also tried to compromise their voter databases.

Kolasky told The Daily Beast that the biggest change at DHS since the 2016 election has been efforts to build closer relationships with state and local election officials. In the last election cycle, those relationships had been lacking.

“Part of that problem was that the [2016] attacks were not on states, they were on local systems, and DHS claimed to have contacted the local systems,” said Jim Condos, Vermont secretary of state and president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We struggled with them in one of our meetings—talking with them for an hour, trying to get them to understand. This is the criticism from the beginning of 2016. DHS did not understand how the election system worked.”

Condos continued, “We tried to them that if one state is attacked, all are attacked. If a local system is attacked, the whole state is attacked—and other states need to be in communications with one another.”

Kolasky said that Homeland Security has come a long way since 2016.

“We’ve gotten to really learn and understand the way that elections are conducted,” Kolasky said. “We have a richer understanding of the election management systems: the way they run processes and the best way to share information with them.”

In the months since the 2016 mess, he said DHS[6] officials have had “a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.” And, Kolasky added, senior department officials have met with most states’ top election officials.

Another major change has been getting state and local election officials security clearances so they can view classified information about election threats. Kolasky said that the department made clearances available to more than 160 election officials in September, and that 19 have received clearances clearances so far.

“DHS is in the process of doing that for all 50 states,” said former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson. “States need to request the clearance, but DHS is expediting the process.”

“Secretary Lawson, along with other secretaries of state, is in the process of obtaining a security clearance that will allow her greater access to sensitive information,” said Ian Hauer, deputy communications director for Indiana’s secretary of state. “In return, we’re educating DHS on our state and local-level cyber-protections and offering feedback on the systems they have set up.”

And in February, Kolasky added, a host of officials got temporary one-day clearances for a briefing on election threats.

And while President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism[7] that the Russian government threatened the 2016 election, Kolasky said the White House’s National Security Council has been a major partner in DHS’ efforts to block future election attacks. They have been especially helpful with bringing different federal agencies together, he said. He added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who formerly headed DHS, has played a role in the work.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, a low-profile component of DHS, has taken on the task of securing elections. The arm of DHS, through the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, has provided services to state and local election officials—including cyber hygiene scans and cyber resilience reviews to check their election systems’ security (PDF[8]).

NPPD also funds MS-ISAC[9], a cybersecurity database designed to help states stay up-to-date about threats. The system was just formalized as a means of communication between state and federal agencies for cyberthreats at the Government Coordinating Council meeting.

While many states use NPPD’s services, they aren’t mandatory (the feds wouldn’t have the power to require them even if they wanted to).

When state, local, and federal operations are all attempting to work together to protect themselves from an unpredictable and evolving force, communication has been key to get a grip on the learning curve before the 2018 midterms arrive. All parties say they know the risks involved if they don’t.

“Every event or conference I have attended, the number one conversation I have with state officials is about securing the system, and what additional resources are available,” Masterson said. “There’s been a heightened awareness since 2016.”

References

  1. ^ Betsy Woodruff (www.thedailybeast.com)
  2. ^ Julia Arciga (www.thedailybeast.com)
  3. ^ information attack (www.thedailybeast.com)
  4. ^ concluded in January 2017 (www.fbi.gov)
  5. ^ last September (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ DHS (www.thedailybeast.com)
  7. ^ expressed skepticism (www.thedailybeast.com)
  8. ^ PDF (www.eac.gov)
  9. ^ MS-ISAC (www.cisecurity.org)
0

Homeland Security Sees No 'Nefarious Activity' Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

ELECTION INTEGRITY

Homeland Security Sees No ‘Nefarious Activity’ Threatening Cybersecurity Ahead of Midterms

In the months since the 2016 election, DHS officials have had ‘a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.’

03.12.18 5:25 AM ET

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

It’s apparently all quiet on the election front. Bob Kolasky, a Department of Homeland Security official working on election cybersecurity issues, told The Daily Beast that DHS hasn’t seen evidence of foreign actors attempting to hack American election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“We have not seen anything in the 2018 election, no,” Kolasky told The Daily Beast last week in an exclusive interview. “We have not seen any significant nefarious activity.”

Preparing to counter nefarious activity has been a major project for DHS since the 2016 general election, when the Kremlin launched an information attack[3] on the United States. The American Intelligence Community concluded in January 2017[4] that Russian-backed actors stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and also launching a wide-ranging social media campaign using stolen American identities. And last September[5], DHS told 21 states that Kremlin-backed operatives also tried to compromise their voter databases.

Kolasky told The Daily Beast that the biggest change at DHS since the 2016 election has been efforts to build closer relationships with state and local election officials. In the last election cycle, those relationships had been lacking.

“Part of that problem was that the [2016] attacks were not on states, they were on local systems, and DHS claimed to have contacted the local systems,” said Jim Condos, Vermont secretary of state and president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We struggled with them in one of our meetings—talking with them for an hour, trying to get them to understand. This is the criticism from the beginning of 2016. DHS did not understand how the election system worked.”

Condos continued, “We tried to them that if one state is attacked, all are attacked. If a local system is attacked, the whole state is attacked—and other states need to be in communications with one another.”

Kolasky said that Homeland Security has come a long way since 2016.

“We’ve gotten to really learn and understand the way that elections are conducted,” Kolasky said. “We have a richer understanding of the election management systems: the way they run processes and the best way to share information with them.”

In the months since the 2016 mess, he said DHS[6] officials have had “a little bit of a crash course on what it means to run an election.” And, Kolasky added, senior department officials have met with most states’ top election officials.

Another major change has been getting state and local election officials security clearances so they can view classified information about election threats. Kolasky said that the department made clearances available to more than 160 election officials in September, and that 19 have received clearances clearances so far.

“DHS is in the process of doing that for all 50 states,” said former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Matthew Masterson. “States need to request the clearance, but DHS is expediting the process.”

“Secretary Lawson, along with other secretaries of state, is in the process of obtaining a security clearance that will allow her greater access to sensitive information,” said Ian Hauer, deputy communications director for Indiana’s secretary of state. “In return, we’re educating DHS on our state and local-level cyber-protections and offering feedback on the systems they have set up.”

And in February, Kolasky added, a host of officials got temporary one-day clearances for a briefing on election threats.

And while President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism[7] that the Russian government threatened the 2016 election, Kolasky said the White House’s National Security Council has been a major partner in DHS’ efforts to block future election attacks. They have been especially helpful with bringing different federal agencies together, he said. He added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, who formerly headed DHS, has played a role in the work.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate, a low-profile component of DHS, has taken on the task of securing elections. The arm of DHS, through the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, has provided services to state and local election officials—including cyber hygiene scans and cyber resilience reviews to check their election systems’ security (PDF[8]).

NPPD also funds MS-ISAC[9], a cybersecurity database designed to help states stay up-to-date about threats. The system was just formalized as a means of communication between state and federal agencies for cyberthreats at the Government Coordinating Council meeting.

While many states use NPPD’s services, they aren’t mandatory (the feds wouldn’t have the power to require them even if they wanted to).

When state, local, and federal operations are all attempting to work together to protect themselves from an unpredictable and evolving force, communication has been key to get a grip on the learning curve before the 2018 midterms arrive. All parties say they know the risks involved if they don’t.

“Every event or conference I have attended, the number one conversation I have with state officials is about securing the system, and what additional resources are available,” Masterson said. “There’s been a heightened awareness since 2016.”

References

  1. ^ Betsy Woodruff (www.thedailybeast.com)
  2. ^ Julia Arciga (www.thedailybeast.com)
  3. ^ information attack (www.thedailybeast.com)
  4. ^ concluded in January 2017 (www.fbi.gov)
  5. ^ last September (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ DHS (www.thedailybeast.com)
  7. ^ expressed skepticism (www.thedailybeast.com)
  8. ^ PDF (www.eac.gov)
  9. ^ MS-ISAC (www.cisecurity.org)
0

China's military spending

When assessing China’s military spending and modernization, we should keep six things in mind. First, China’s official military spending figures are questionable, with many independent estimates[1] suggesting that it already spends in excess of $200 billion on its military each year. Although the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has become somewhat more transparent over the past two decades, the exact annual defence budget should be taken with a grain of salt.

Two, until about 2020 the PLA will be undertaking[2] perhaps its most radical modernization drive[3] since 1949, shrinking the size of its ground forces by about 300,000, increasing the relative weight of its air force and navy, and improving joint theatre-level command and control structures. In short, the PLA is evolving into a modern, war-fighting, and offensive-oriented force.

Three, despite spending increases, China’s ability to import defence equipment and technology is still limited by export controls and arms embargoes. Russia and the former Soviet republics are the largest exporters to China over the past five years, with sensors, missiles, and aircraft among the equipment provided. However, the fact that China’s arms imports have steadily decreased[4] over the past 15 years points to its growing defence industrial capabilities, helped in part by reverse engineering[5]and technological theft[6].

Four, as recently as 2013, China spent more on internal security[7] than on defence (local security spending from 2014 onwards has not been fully divulged[8]). This includes funding for entities such as the Ministry of State Security (intelligence) and Ministry of Public Security (law and order), whose functions partly contribute to national defence. But equally, this indicates Beijing’s continuing concerns about its vulnerability to domestic unrest.

Five, despite its greater resources, the PLA of today has never fought a war. Gen. Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, is among the few remaining officers with battle experience (against Vietnam). This is in stark contrast to the United States, which has been battle-hardened (and fatigued) from almost constant warfare in the Gulf, Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Considering the rising[9] tide of[10] jingoism[11], the PLA’s inexperience suggests that it is an adolescent andpotentially[12] trigger-happy[13] force, one that is as likely to drag a country into conflict as it is to prevent one.

Six, rather paradoxically, the PLA remains a force of last resort—for now. The recent pattern of Chinese assertiveness – whether in the East China Sea or in the Himalayas – has often involved a three-tier approach. It is led by apparent civilians, such as armed fishing vessels[14]dredging ships[15], or road building crews, who are backed up by paramilitary or law enforcement forces such as coast guard vessels and border security. The PLA itself offers a large latent threat, but one that has (so far) barked[16] more than it has bitten[17]. In fact, information, psychological, and legal warfare[18] and economic coercion[19] remain at the pointy end of China’s spear.

What is without doubt is that China has the second-most potent military today after the United States, and this represents the degree to which Beijing has become a peer competitor to Washington as a global power. Its ability to play an offensive role in future conflicts has increased. This is obviously a concern for countries along China’s periphery, particularly those with which it has outstanding territorial disputes. These include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Bhutan, and India. China’s growing military profile also directly involves the United States, which is a resident power in the Western Pacific with alliance commitments to five countries. For all these actors, China’s increased military spending, capabilities, and assertiveness will require continued vigilance, confidence-building measures, and exhortations for greater transparency. At the same time, it will necessitate better defence preparedness, stronger alliances and partnerships to raise the potential costs of Chinese military adventurism, and if necessary the resolute and appropriate application of force.

References

  1. ^ independent estimates (chinapower.csis.org)
  2. ^ undertaking (www.rand.org)
  3. ^ modernization drive (ndupress.ndu.edu)
  4. ^ steadily decreased (armstrade.sipri.org)
  5. ^ reverse engineering (www.reuters.com)
  6. ^ technological theft (www.popularmechanics.com)
  7. ^ more on internal security (www.reuters.com)
  8. ^ been fully divulged (blogs.wsj.com)
  9. ^ rising (foreignpolicy.com)
  10. ^ tide of (edition.cnn.com)
  11. ^ jingoism (www.bbc.com)
  12. ^ potentially (www.newsweek.com)
  13. ^ trigger-happy (www.japantimes.co.jp)
  14. ^ armed fishing vessels (www.washingtonpost.com)
  15. ^ dredging ships (www.ft.com)
  16. ^ barked (www.scmp.com)
  17. ^ bitten (www.lowyinstitute.org)
  18. ^ information, psychological, and legal warfare (jamestown.org)
  19. ^ economic coercion (money.cnn.com)
0

China's military spending

When assessing China’s military spending and modernization, we should keep six things in mind. First, China’s official military spending figures are questionable, with many independent estimates[1] suggesting that it already spends in excess of $200 billion on its military each year. Although the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has become somewhat more transparent over the past two decades, the exact annual defence budget should be taken with a grain of salt.

Two, until about 2020 the PLA will be undertaking[2] perhaps its most radical modernization drive[3] since 1949, shrinking the size of its ground forces by about 300,000, increasing the relative weight of its air force and navy, and improving joint theatre-level command and control structures. In short, the PLA is evolving into a modern, war-fighting, and offensive-oriented force.

Three, despite spending increases, China’s ability to import defence equipment and technology is still limited by export controls and arms embargoes. Russia and the former Soviet republics are the largest exporters to China over the past five years, with sensors, missiles, and aircraft among the equipment provided. However, the fact that China’s arms imports have steadily decreased[4] over the past 15 years points to its growing defence industrial capabilities, helped in part by reverse engineering[5]and technological theft[6].

Four, as recently as 2013, China spent more on internal security[7] than on defence (local security spending from 2014 onwards has not been fully divulged[8]). This includes funding for entities such as the Ministry of State Security (intelligence) and Ministry of Public Security (law and order), whose functions partly contribute to national defence. But equally, this indicates Beijing’s continuing concerns about its vulnerability to domestic unrest.

Five, despite its greater resources, the PLA of today has never fought a war. Gen. Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, is among the few remaining officers with battle experience (against Vietnam). This is in stark contrast to the United States, which has been battle-hardened (and fatigued) from almost constant warfare in the Gulf, Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Considering the rising[9] tide of[10] jingoism[11], the PLA’s inexperience suggests that it is an adolescent andpotentially[12] trigger-happy[13] force, one that is as likely to drag a country into conflict as it is to prevent one.

Six, rather paradoxically, the PLA remains a force of last resort—for now. The recent pattern of Chinese assertiveness – whether in the East China Sea or in the Himalayas – has often involved a three-tier approach. It is led by apparent civilians, such as armed fishing vessels[14]dredging ships[15], or road building crews, who are backed up by paramilitary or law enforcement forces such as coast guard vessels and border security. The PLA itself offers a large latent threat, but one that has (so far) barked[16] more than it has bitten[17]. In fact, information, psychological, and legal warfare[18] and economic coercion[19] remain at the pointy end of China’s spear.

What is without doubt is that China has the second-most potent military today after the United States, and this represents the degree to which Beijing has become a peer competitor to Washington as a global power. Its ability to play an offensive role in future conflicts has increased. This is obviously a concern for countries along China’s periphery, particularly those with which it has outstanding territorial disputes. These include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Bhutan, and India. China’s growing military profile also directly involves the United States, which is a resident power in the Western Pacific with alliance commitments to five countries. For all these actors, China’s increased military spending, capabilities, and assertiveness will require continued vigilance, confidence-building measures, and exhortations for greater transparency. At the same time, it will necessitate better defence preparedness, stronger alliances and partnerships to raise the potential costs of Chinese military adventurism, and if necessary the resolute and appropriate application of force.

References

  1. ^ independent estimates (chinapower.csis.org)
  2. ^ undertaking (www.rand.org)
  3. ^ modernization drive (ndupress.ndu.edu)
  4. ^ steadily decreased (armstrade.sipri.org)
  5. ^ reverse engineering (www.reuters.com)
  6. ^ technological theft (www.popularmechanics.com)
  7. ^ more on internal security (www.reuters.com)
  8. ^ been fully divulged (blogs.wsj.com)
  9. ^ rising (foreignpolicy.com)
  10. ^ tide of (edition.cnn.com)
  11. ^ jingoism (www.bbc.com)
  12. ^ potentially (www.newsweek.com)
  13. ^ trigger-happy (www.japantimes.co.jp)
  14. ^ armed fishing vessels (www.washingtonpost.com)
  15. ^ dredging ships (www.ft.com)
  16. ^ barked (www.scmp.com)
  17. ^ bitten (www.lowyinstitute.org)
  18. ^ information, psychological, and legal warfare (jamestown.org)
  19. ^ economic coercion (money.cnn.com)
0

China's military spending

When assessing China’s military spending and modernization, we should keep six things in mind. First, China’s official military spending figures are questionable, with many independent estimates[1] suggesting that it already spends in excess of $200 billion on its military each year. Although the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has become somewhat more transparent over the past two decades, the exact annual defence budget should be taken with a grain of salt.

Two, until about 2020 the PLA will be undertaking[2] perhaps its most radical modernization drive[3] since 1949, shrinking the size of its ground forces by about 300,000, increasing the relative weight of its air force and navy, and improving joint theatre-level command and control structures. In short, the PLA is evolving into a modern, war-fighting, and offensive-oriented force.

Three, despite spending increases, China’s ability to import defence equipment and technology is still limited by export controls and arms embargoes. Russia and the former Soviet republics are the largest exporters to China over the past five years, with sensors, missiles, and aircraft among the equipment provided. However, the fact that China’s arms imports have steadily decreased[4] over the past 15 years points to its growing defence industrial capabilities, helped in part by reverse engineering[5]and technological theft[6].

Four, as recently as 2013, China spent more on internal security[7] than on defence (local security spending from 2014 onwards has not been fully divulged[8]). This includes funding for entities such as the Ministry of State Security (intelligence) and Ministry of Public Security (law and order), whose functions partly contribute to national defence. But equally, this indicates Beijing’s continuing concerns about its vulnerability to domestic unrest.

Five, despite its greater resources, the PLA of today has never fought a war. Gen. Zhang Youxia, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, is among the few remaining officers with battle experience (against Vietnam). This is in stark contrast to the United States, which has been battle-hardened (and fatigued) from almost constant warfare in the Gulf, Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Considering the rising[9] tide of[10] jingoism[11], the PLA’s inexperience suggests that it is an adolescent andpotentially[12] trigger-happy[13] force, one that is as likely to drag a country into conflict as it is to prevent one.

Six, rather paradoxically, the PLA remains a force of last resort—for now. The recent pattern of Chinese assertiveness – whether in the East China Sea or in the Himalayas – has often involved a three-tier approach. It is led by apparent civilians, such as armed fishing vessels[14]dredging ships[15], or road building crews, who are backed up by paramilitary or law enforcement forces such as coast guard vessels and border security. The PLA itself offers a large latent threat, but one that has (so far) barked[16] more than it has bitten[17]. In fact, information, psychological, and legal warfare[18] and economic coercion[19] remain at the pointy end of China’s spear.

What is without doubt is that China has the second-most potent military today after the United States, and this represents the degree to which Beijing has become a peer competitor to Washington as a global power. Its ability to play an offensive role in future conflicts has increased. This is obviously a concern for countries along China’s periphery, particularly those with which it has outstanding territorial disputes. These include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Bhutan, and India. China’s growing military profile also directly involves the United States, which is a resident power in the Western Pacific with alliance commitments to five countries. For all these actors, China’s increased military spending, capabilities, and assertiveness will require continued vigilance, confidence-building measures, and exhortations for greater transparency. At the same time, it will necessitate better defence preparedness, stronger alliances and partnerships to raise the potential costs of Chinese military adventurism, and if necessary the resolute and appropriate application of force.

References

  1. ^ independent estimates (chinapower.csis.org)
  2. ^ undertaking (www.rand.org)
  3. ^ modernization drive (ndupress.ndu.edu)
  4. ^ steadily decreased (armstrade.sipri.org)
  5. ^ reverse engineering (www.reuters.com)
  6. ^ technological theft (www.popularmechanics.com)
  7. ^ more on internal security (www.reuters.com)
  8. ^ been fully divulged (blogs.wsj.com)
  9. ^ rising (foreignpolicy.com)
  10. ^ tide of (edition.cnn.com)
  11. ^ jingoism (www.bbc.com)
  12. ^ potentially (www.newsweek.com)
  13. ^ trigger-happy (www.japantimes.co.jp)
  14. ^ armed fishing vessels (www.washingtonpost.com)
  15. ^ dredging ships (www.ft.com)
  16. ^ barked (www.scmp.com)
  17. ^ bitten (www.lowyinstitute.org)
  18. ^ information, psychological, and legal warfare (jamestown.org)
  19. ^ economic coercion (money.cnn.com)
0

Burkina Faso President Urges Public to Cooperate With Military After Twin Attacks

Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore urged the public Saturday to cooperate more closely with the country’s military, one day after an armed group carried out coordinated attacks on France’s embassy and cultural center and on the West African country’s military headquarters in the capital of Ouagadougou.

“I would like to encourage the population to reinforce collaboration with our defense and security forces in our common fight against terrorism,” he said in a speech on national television.

The Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) — also known as Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa’al- Muslimin (JNIM) in Arabic — on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message cited by Mauritania’s Al-Akhbar news agency.

The group, a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous al-Qaida links, have been behind several high-profile attacks against civilian and military forces since forming last year.

The government said eight soldiers were killed, as well as eight assailants — four at the embassy and four at military headquarters. Eighty others were wounded.

At the start of the Friday attacks, witnesses said, armed men got out of a car and opened fire on passers-by before heading to the embassy. An explosion occurred at about the same time near the military headquarters and the French cultural center about a kilometer from the embassy attack, witnesses said.

Aristide Voundi, a milkman who was near the army headquarters when the attack occurred, told VOA, “I heard a loud noise in that area, and I saw black smoke. My ears were buzzing. I got scared. I took off, and I saw people running. It was panic in the city.”

Homemaker Sanou Safiatou said she was in the city when she heard an explosion, which triggered a scramble for shelter. “We were really afraid,” and “the traffic was dense,” she said. “It was chaos.”

A prosecutor in Paris said an investigation had been launched into “attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise.”

The city has been attacked at least twice in the past few years by Islamic extremists targeting foreigners.

Burkina Faso is among a number of vulnerable countries in the southern Sahara region that are fighting jihadist groups.

VOA French to Africa service’s Bagassi Koura contributed to this report.