Episode 6: 2020 Elections Year in Review

2020 Elections Year in Review

In this edition of Cybersecurity Where You Are, host and CISO at the Center for Internet Security (CIS), Sean Atkinson welcomes guests Geoff Hale and Lew Robinson. Hale leads the Election Security Initiative at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), while Robinson serves as CIS Vice President of Election Operations. Both agencies and both men, respectively, played a big role in the success of the 2020 General Election, which has been deemed the most secure election in American history.

Elections…A Critical Infrastructure

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated elections as a critical infrastructure. As a result, the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) was established in 2018 to support the election community’s cybersecurity needs. CIS operates the EI-ISAC through a collaborative partnership between CISA and the Elections Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Committee (EIS-GCC).

Strong Partnerships Make for Strong Collaborative Efforts

CIS’s model for operating the EI-ISAC, as well as the model for broader cybersecurity efforts, is based on establishing trusted relationships. CIS proactively worked with Congress and CISA to ensure the availability of cybersecurity resources to protect election networks and systems nationwide through a defense-in-depth approach. In addition, EI-ISAC staff worked closely with other key organizations supporting the elections community such as the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED), the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC), the Election Center, and the International Association of Government Officials (IGO).

Since 2016, a community of election officials, their staff members, associations, technology vendors, federal partners, and cybersecurity experts worked to develop and implement best practices to defend against cybersecurity risks. Those best practices were put to the test in the 2020 General Election.

Some of the highlights from this episode of the Cybersecurity Where You Are podcast are:

  • Technical and physical controls that contributed to the 2020 General Election being the most secure election in history
  • Steps taken to enhance communications and provide threat intelligence to state and local entities
  • Collaborative process to provide stakeholder input to influence the approach to election security
  • Strategies and techniques used to manage mis- and disinformation
  • Efforts made to assist state and local election offices with best practice guidance
  • Lessons learned from the 2020 General Election

For CIS and CISA, continued collaboration and strong partnerships are key to maintaining focus on the threats facing future elections.

Episode Resources