Lessons learned and adopted by state and local election officials over the past four years combined with strong coordination between all levels of government are a key reason that the 2020 national elections process has gone smoothly, at least in terms of cyber security concerns and foreign influence efforts, senior officials with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said Tuesday night.
Overall, the events of Election Day were “pretty vanilla,” a senior CISA official told reporters during one of a series of background calls the agency held to be transparent about what it was seeing and doing throughout the day. It has been just “another Tuesday on the Internet,” the official said.
That said, the official said a lot could happen while votes are being tallied, certified and audited before they are final.
The official said state and local election officials have taken “seriously” potential interference and through things like exercises that worked through various scenarios, planning and federal grant funding, created resilient election systems.
In addition to CISA, the official also credited the FBI, intelligence community, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, U.S. Cyber Command, and the Election Assistance Commission for working closely together throughout the election cycle. In the past four years, this was the most “impressive…collaboration and coordination” that CISA has seen, the official said.
Following Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and actions taken across all levels of government, “we’re not soft targets” anymore when it comes to U.S. election systems, the official said.
CISA, working with its partners in the Election Security-Information Sharing and Analysis Center and state and local jurisdictions, has Albert cyber security sensors in all 50 states, enhancing situational awareness of cyber threats, the official said. The deployment of the network intrusion detection sensors combined with improved information sharing has provided more awareness of activity, whether that’s cyber or foreign influence operations, the official said.
Earlier on Tuesday, senior CISA officials had said that the only election-related issues so far in certain localities were minor technical glitches that had been fixed or worked around relatively quickly, demonstrating the resilience of the respective systems.
On Wednesday, CISA Director Christopher Krebs issued a statement saying that “Over the last four years, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has been a part of a whole-of-nation effort to ensure American voters decide American elections. Importantly, after millions of Americans voted, we have no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies.”