Ohio Policy Aims to Detect Vulnerabilities in Election Websites

In this July 14, 2018 photo, an Election Systems & Software (ES&S) employee demonstrates company equipment at the vendor display area of a National Association of Secretaries of States convention in Philadelphia.

In this July 14, 2018 photo, an Election Systems & Software (ES&S) employee demonstrates company equipment at the vendor display area of a National Association of Secretaries of States convention in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Mel Evans

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Elections officials and vendors are moving forward with plans to roll out vulnerability disclosure programs to help detect problems before the presidential election.

Hackers and security researchers have long worked with technology companies to discover and fix security vulnerabilities. Now, Ohio will become the first state to set up a vulnerability disclosure policy to help the Secretary of State’s office find and fix election-related problems before people head to the polls.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced a policy this month that covers websites related to the election and voter registration.

“Make no mistake, our nation’s enemies will be looking to disrupt our elections, and our websites and databases are among their top targets,” LaRose said in a statement. “By putting this policy in place, we’ll be able to work with cybersecurity researchers to find our vulnerabilities before the bad guys do.”

Under the policy, researchers who find weaknesses in the state’s websites are asked to report them through a specific email address and not to publicly disclose their findings for 120 days—giving the state time to fix any issues. Researchers will be notified of the fix and given the ability to test and verify that the remediation has been successful.

The policy does not cover voting equipment like machines and electronic pollbooks.

Much of the recent public discussion about the upcoming presidential elections has centered on increasing mail or early voting options so that people can avoid crowded polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns about the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to actually deliver all of the ballots people could mail this fall have also surfaced.

But since U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, ensuring that the election is not tainted by foreign actors has also remained a constant concern for election officials.

“We recognize the conversation has shifted in some respects, but our members are taking very seriously the cyber threats,” said Scott Algeier, executive director of the Information Technology-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IT-ISAC), a non-profit that serves as a clearinghouse for information on cyberthreats to critical infrastructure.

Coordinated vulnerability disclosure programs are important in the elections industry because they “build trust between researchers and the technology providers and the state officials,” Algeier said.

Efforts have been underway for several years to encourage disclosure programs in the elections space.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) last month released a guide for election administrators that walks them through the process of establishing a vulnerability reporting program. 

“Cybersecurity researchers can be great and responsible partners in this effort and we are creating this guide as a way to help state and local election officials understand the support they can offer and how to work with them in our collective, whole of nation effort to protect our elections,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs.

Krebs called Ohio’s disclosure policy “major progress in bringing together researchers and election officials to secure our election systems.”

A group of IT-ISAC members who work in the elections industry have also explored the concept of creating a vulnerability disclosure program related to election equipment. In a white paper released Wednesday, the group said its members, including elections equipment vendors, are currently finalizing their own individual corporate vulnerability disclosure policies.

One vendor, Election Systems and Software, released its own policy last month.

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Olathe, KC Takes its Community Engagement to the Next Level with a Civic Engagement Platform
Olathe, KS, USA
West Allis, WI consolidates IT, sees 30% efficiency increase
West Allis, WI, USA
Online permitting and approval process during COVID-19 exceeds in-person performance numbers
Markham, ON, Canada

NEXT STORY: New Coalition Wants to Help in Fight Against Election Misinformation

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.