Ahead of the presidential and congressional elections this November, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) this month released a strategic plan for how it is working with state, local and campaign officials to strengthen their cyber security postures.
The #Protect2020 Strategic Plan combines guiding principles and lines of effort that CISA has been pursuing for more than a year to improve election security in the U.S. following Russian attempts to subvert the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Highlighting that election security is a “whole of nation effort,” CISA Director Christopher Krebs says in a preface to the new plan that “State and local officials are on the front lines, and the role of the Federal Government is to make sure that they are prepared. Ultimately, CISA’s efforts depend on the trust and cooperation of state and local officials. Those relationships are strong and growing stronger.”
The strategic plan outlines four lines of effort, each containing objectives and key actions. The first line of effort is election infrastructure, which CISA seeks to strengthen through information sharing, providing various assessments and services such as vulnerability testing and incident response capabilities, and building stakeholder capacity through various exercises and promoting best practices.
The second line of effort entails working with political campaigns and political parties through information sharing, mitigating vulnerabilities to information technology systems, and sharing best practices.
The agency is also working to improve awareness by voters to improve messaging around foreign influence operations, which typically are pushed through social media, develop public awareness, share information and educate the public on best practices.
The final line of effort is warning and response and is focused on improved cooperation between vendors, election officials and the private sector, working across the federal government, including the intelligence community and law enforcement, to gain a common understanding of election threats, identify threats and quickly share threat information and trends with all stakeholders.
The plan also features two poster boards that CISA shares with state and local officials to provide best practices and guidance for running safe elections and responding to emergencies.
“CISA’s #Protect2020 strategy is all about building strong, resilient, and interconnected stakeholder communities, outfitted with the required capacities, technical assistance, and information necessary to resist adversaries while trusting that the DHS CISA organization will be there to support them in every way that they can,” the agency says.