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Cybersecurity

Sen. Angus King Warns That America’s Upcoming Elections Are Subject to Cyber Threats

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Screenshot of Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, from the webinar

June 15, 2020 — “Our election system is way more vulnerable than we think,” said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, warning about the consequences of domestic and foreign malicious actors paired with the shortage of federal cybersecurity specialists in the United States.

Cybersecurity experts discussed current trends in security and the potential threats that loom over an increasingly digitized future in a panel on Monday, hosted by public policy think tank New America.

The panel was highly concerned with security vulnerabilities surrounding the upcoming 2020 election.

“The attack surface is potentially unlimited,” said  Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., adding that the creation of smart cities, popularization of the Internet of Things and digitalization of critical infrastructure have increased the risk of cyberthreats.

The panelists agreed that a paper-based system should be utilized in the upcoming election to maintain transparency and prevent foreign influence. Elections are all about trust, King said, and undermining confidence in the system could potentially incite violence.

“The president continues to use the word ‘rigged’ to describe mail-in ballots,” pointed out Nicole Perlroth, a cybersecurity reporter at The New York Times.

President Donald Trump’s continued spread of misinformation on the topic, such as asserting that mail-in ballots will lead to a vast increase of voter fraud, are made with no evidence, Pelroth said.

Trump has never publicly acknowledged the role Russian interference played towards him securing the office in the 2016 election, she added, and the idea of holding digital elections would be laughable in countries such as Ukraine, which have come to expect Russian interfere in elections.

Perlroth argued that Russia’s main intention in interfering is pushing distrust in the U.S., with the ultimate goal of creating so much infighting that the country is not able to investigate Russian maneuvers.

“The partisan battle we see playing out every day is partially the result of foreign actors,” said Perlroth.

The panelists were unsure which malicious actor would attempt to interfere in the upcoming election, but they maintained that it may be a domestic actor, a foreign actor or several domestic and foreign actors.

Perlroth identified China, Iran and Russia as the countries most likely to attempt interference.

“The next war will be in bits and bytes,” maintained King.

The panelists agreed that the number of malicious attacks online is likely to increase, as cyberwar is both an easy and effective way to bring the legitimacy of a nation into question.

Not only is the process efficient, but it is cheap. “Putin can pay 800 hackers for the price of one jet fighter,” King said.

“Right now, our advisories pay no price for attacking us,” he added. “I want them to have to think twice.”

Contributing Reporter Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide and has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband.

Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Consumers Need to Understand Personal Cybersecurity, Says White House Cyber Official

Consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, said Camille Stewart Gloster.

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Photo of John Mitchell, Tobin Richardson, Amit Elazari, and Camille Stewart Gloster (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – In addition to building a more robust cybersecurity workforce, policymakers should consider consumer education, said Camille Stewart Gloster, deputy national cyber director for technology and ecosystem for the White House, speaking Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2023 has featured numerous discussions of cybersecurity in sectors ranging from transportation to Internet of Things home devices. On Thursday, an official from the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufactures should design and pre-configure devices to be secure, thus reducing the security burden on consumers.

For their own protection, consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, Stewart Gloster said Saturday. “The sooner that people understand that their physical security and digital security are inextricably linked the better,” she argued. According to the panel’s moderator, Consumer Technology Association senior manager for government affairs John Mitchell, 82 percent of data breaches in 2021 involved “the human element, stolen credentials, phishing, misuse.”

Stewart Gloster’s team is working on a national cyber-workforce and education strategy, she said, which will address the federal cyber workforce, the national cyber workforce, cyber education, and “digital safety awareness.”

Stewart Gloster said workforce initiatives should promote the participation of “people of a diverse set of backgrounds who are highly skilled and multidisciplinary who can take a look at the problem space, who can apply their lived experiences, apply the things they’ve observed, apply their academic backgrounds to a challenging and ever evolving landscape.”

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Cybersecurity for IoT Devices Should be Market-Driven

NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT prescribe desired outcomes, rather than specific and ‘brittle’ standards.

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Michael Bergman (left) and Katerina Megas

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2023 – Cybersecurity protocols for Internet of Things devices should be industry-driven, Katerina Megas, program manager of the Cybersecurity for Internet of Things Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023.

The popularization of IoT devices gives cyber-criminals increasing opportunities to breach networks, many say. Network-connected household devices – e.g., lightbulbs and home security devices – can be entry-points if security protocols are lacking. On CES panel on Thursday, a cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufacturers should design and preset devices to be safe, shifting much of the burden from the consumer.

“For a long-term, sustainable solution, the best approach really is for demand to be market driven,” she said, adding that NIST is “happy” to support the market when called on. To preserve flexibility, NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT manufacturers in general prescribed desired outcomes, rather than specific and “brittle” standards, Megas said.

“How you achieve those [outcomes] will vary depending on the maturity of your organization, the architecture of your product, perhaps preferences that you might have for you own internal processes,” she explained.

Megas said manufacturers, who well know their devices’ technical capabilities, often lack an understanding of how consumers actually use their devices. Megas said she has examined how to “help a manufacturer who has no insights into the final contextual use of this product, how can we help them…understand, ‘Here are the risks associated with my device.’”

At an American Enterprise Institute panel held in November, Megas endorsed an “ecosystem approach” to cybersecurity, arguing that network security is also indispensable.

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Railroad Industry Needs Cybersecurity Update

Shawn Smith advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the rail industry.

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Photo of Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of Cylus

LAS VEGAS, January 5, 2023 – To keep pace with today’s technological innovations and cyberthreats, the railway industry must retool its cybersecurity defenses, said Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of rail cybersecurity company Cylus.

The railway industry is working to patch old vulnerabilities as well as the new ones that have been create by developing technologies, Smith told Broadband Breakfast at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. The need for enhanced cybersecurity has been a recurring theme at the conference, as have the implications of the ever increasing number of devices and technologies now relying on connectivity.

“We’re really fast-tracking an operator’s ability to keep pace with the change in the digital environment that they’re operating in (and) the interconnectivity that they’re seeing,” Smith said, adding that his team works to provide “visibility, threat detection, and response capability to keep pace with the change in their organizations.”

Smith said that many of the large rail players have developed responses for some cybersecurity risks, but lack the automation and planning tools necessary to maximize their effectiveness. He advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the industry.

Governments and industry players worldwide have of late been on high alert for cyberthreats, particularly since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Railways, like other infrastructure, are potential targets for nefarious actors, Smith said.

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