What the States got Right

Among the things everyone got right this time were implementing basic cyber security best practices, like stronger passwords and two-factor authentication, limiting computer system access rights, and isolating sensitive digital . The $800 million that federal and officials shelled out for hardening elections systems also played a major role, paying for hardware and updates and for training for thousands of election workers.

“In general, states have improved their election security by taking a much more holistic risk-mitigation approach,” says Eric Rosenbach, director of the Defending Digital Democracy Project (D3P), at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “From a tech perspective they’re going through their systems to sure their is not connected to unsecured servers. They’re also focusing on access and verification.”

Rosenbach’s group, made up of policy , security professionals, tech companies like and Facebook, and officials from the Department of Homeland Security, has produced training manuals and table-top training exercises for state election officials.

One thing the D3P group noted when training election administrators was how reluctant they were to talk to the media after experiencing a security breach or if disinformation was being spread about a voter registration rolls, tallying machines, or reporting software. “It’s a real weakness because you need to get the facts out and engage with the public to develop trust in the system,” says Rosenbach. “And they’ve really improved on that.”

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