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Cybersecurity

There Are Countless Computer and Mail-Based Threats to the Security of U.S. Election

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Screenshot from the webinar

October 20, 2020 – Threats to this election are of historic proportion, claimed Audrey Kurth Cronin, founding director of the American University Center for Security, at a panel discussion on the impact of foreign and domestic players’ interference on democracy.

There have been many threats to the 2020 November elections, including cybersecurity attacks from foreign and domestic players. Speaking on an October 6 panel, Cronin also said she was concerned about foreign money slipping into our campaigns.

She was also critical of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and said it needed to be narrowed so as to restrict tech platforms’s freedom in transmitting information.

Keith Darden, associate professor at the university’s School of International Service, disagreed with Cronin on Section 230. He said platforms like Twitter have been doing the right thing in shutting down fake accounts and monitoring misinformation. Moreover, it is not the government’s role to shut down speech. He said that private sector has done more for cybersecurity than the Trump administration.

Eric Novotny, program director for U.S. foreign policy and national security program at university, compared misinformation to credit card fraud, and said that we needed to accept a little bit of fraud so that everyone could use credit cards. Controlling fraud instead of removing it should be the policy focus, he said.

Panelists also discussed ballot-casting for this election. Cronin was concerned about the aspersions cast on the mail-in system, and even worried that the Trump administration would announce the election results before all the ballots were counted.

When asked how to solve this problem, she said media should do their best to focus on the counting of the ballots, but ultimately it was up to government would need to mobilize from within to combat election misinformation from leaking.

Cronin also pointed to troubling parallels between the U.S. and Russia. Elections get violated when incumbents call upon the military to keep them in office. There’s a dangerous tendency to substitute protest for electoral action.

“This should not be decided in the streets,” she said, “it should be decided in the vote counts.”

Darden’s concern with mail-in ballots was the potential lack of secrecy: “When we move away from ballot secrecy, we move away from ballot security.”

However, he admitted the advantage of mail-in ballots was that it made voting more accessible for those who were far away from a voting station. He also suggested the creation of a bipartisan central electoral commission to protect against voter fraud.

Novotny felt these concerns would be a much bigger problem if the election were narrowly contested.

Reporter Liana Sowa grew up in Simsbury, Connecticut. She studied editing and publishing as a writing fellow at Brigham Young University, where she mentored upperclassmen on neuroscience research papers. She enjoys reading and journaling, and marathon-runnning and stilt-walking.

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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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