ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Following concerns regarding Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election, Congress allocated $380 million to states so they can upgrade their election systems.
States have a July 16 deadline of letting the Election Assistance Commission know how they’ll use the money.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already proposed a plan. His office submitted the documentation to draw down $19.2 million in federal funding for elections cybersecurity.
With that money, the Department of State plans to send some of it to local supervisors of election as well as take a statewide approach.
“Earlier this month, Governor Scott announced that the Department of State is hiring a team of cybersecurity specialists to assist state and local election officials during the 2018 elections,” said Sarah Revell, department spokeswoman. “Additionally, the Department is working with Supervisors of Elections on the $1.9 million in grants to counties that was in the Governor’s recommended budget and was provided by the Legislature for a Network Monitoring Security Solution that will provide automated alerts about system threats that will allow counties to respond quickly when data may be at risk.”
John Faye is with cybersecurity firm Abacode. The company works to protect organizations from hackers and says government agencies can be hot targets. So, it’s important to proactively prepare for an attack.
"Where is it most vulnerable, usually it’s the people," Faye said. "If we look at the overall system, the hacker is going to find the weak point, whether that’s with the individuals that might not have been trained or the devices that might not have been upgraded."
Barry Edwards is a St. Petersburg political expert. He says it’s usually foreign governments that want to mess with elections like Russia in 2016.
"They really wanted to de-legitimize our voting system and elections and democracy in America, which they succeeded," he said. "Democrats think that they rigged the election, republicans don’t, but it just caused friction that we didn’t need to have."
He says most election hacking isn’t about elections.
"The danger of hacking is getting your personal information because when you register to vote, a lot of times they have your driver’s license number and social security information. They have your address, date of birth, etc."
Florida has a gubernatorial primary in August and general election in November.
The state hopes to enhance cybersecurity and voting practices before November’s elections.
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