With the 2020 campaign season well underway, US states are working hard to shore up their election systems before the upcoming primaries. Arizona has good reason to be a part of this nationwide reckoning: as Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and other officials acknowledge, our state’s election systems were targeted by hackers during the 2016 election. Though that attempt proved unsuccessful, it has rightly served as a wakeup call across the state.
So have the ransomware attacks plaguing state and local governments in recent years. Without proper safeguards in place, our elections could be targets for all types of cyber criminals – not just those operating on behalf of another nation state, but also independent hackers intent on lining their pockets or simply wreaking havoc.
Arizona, for its part, is making strides to protect against this threat landscape. This summer, we saw national-level recognition of Arizona’s bipartisan efforts to address election security concerns when the national Governors Association selected ours and five other states to participate in a policy academy on election cybersecurity. As that initiative develops, there is another complementary action we can take to ensure our elections are secure in 2020 and beyond, and that Arizona continues to serve as a leading voice on this critical issue.
The next step is forging a working group of Arizona-based stakeholders to explore critical questions, learn from lessons of the past and efforts of other states, and make practical recommendations that our government can implement in both the near- and long-terms.
Naturally, state and local officials (including Arizona’s fifteen county recorders) will be critical members of this group. Just as key though, are those of us in Arizona’s thriving cybersecurity industry and education sector who are equally committed to safeguarding the foundation of our democracy and carry unique insight on the tools available to get the job done.
The below questions are not earth-shattering; you have likely seen them posed in some form or another in the numerous election security-related thought pieces and investigative reports dominating our news cycle. What’s missing though, is an Arizona-specific perspective. Once created, the working group would provide an avenue for stakeholders to explore these questions in the context of our state’s unique needs.
With the above questions in mind, the working group should also serve as a forum for debating the utility and reach of different solutions and tools, both those that are tried-and-true and those still emerging.The below list is by no means exhaustive, but it represents some of those solutions and tools worth exploring within an Arizona-specific context:
Companies across Arizona’s booming cyber and tech industry are here to help, for we too want to see America’s democracy survive and thrive for centuries to come. Acronis SCS, for its part, is ready and eager to discuss the full spectrum of topics and tools necessary to safeguard Arizona’s elections for the future, as well as offer our expertise in the areas of backup and recovery, endpoint security and ransomware protection, and creating a blockchain solution designed to notarize and secure votes, as described above.
To the state and local officials reading: use us as a cyber think tank. We are standing by to work together.