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Statement by Secretary Johnson About Election Systems' Cybersecurity

Release Date: 
October 1, 2016

For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

I thank Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, and Senators McConnell and Reid for their public letter to the National Association of State Election Directors. This letter, from our congressional leadership, is a strong bipartisan statement endorsing the need for state election officials to take advantage of available cybersecurity expertise, including the Department of Homeland Security, to help secure their systems:

“We urge states to take full advantage of the robust public and private sector resources available to them to ensure that their network infrastructure is secure from attack. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security stands ready to provide cybersecurity assistance to those states that choose to request it.”

The letter goes on to note, accurately, that such assistance by DHS does not mean federal regulation or binding federal directives over state systems of any kind. By its nature, the assistance DHS provides is upon request, and voluntary for the recipient.

As our congressional leaders noted, “malefactors could use cyberattacks to attempt to disrupt the administration of our elections.” These challenges aren't just in the future -- they are here today. In recent months, malicious cyber actors have been scanning a large number of state systems, which could be a preamble to attempted intrusions. In a few cases, we have determined that malicious actors gained access to state voting-related systems. However, we are not aware at this time of any manipulation of data.

We must remain vigilant and continue to address these challenges head on. Before November 8, I urge state and local election officials to seek our cybersecurity assistance. So far, 21 states have contacted us about our services. We hope to see more.

To request cybersecurity assistance, please contact the Department of Homeland Security at SLTTCyber@hq.dhs.gov.

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Last Published Date: October 1, 2016
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