New York Launches Cybersecurity Drills to Combat Election Hacking

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New York state and federal officials have revealed they will hold drills in the weeks leading up to the US House and Senate primary elections to thwart hacking and other cybersecurity threats.

The exercises began on Thursday in Albany in what is increasingly becoming a heightened climate of scrutiny and skepticism of voting systems following the monumental hack of the 2016 US presidential elections. Russian hackers probed systems in as many as 21 states during the presidential race. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) insists only a small number of networks were compromised, with no evidence of any votes being altered.

The exercises will include simulated attacks of voting systems, ransomware computer infections and social engineering as well as social media manipulation wherein false information is posted online to sway a vote.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement:

The people of New York deserve an open, transparent election process they can trust, and these exercises are an integral part of restoring voter confidence and the integrity of our election infrastructure.

The cybersecurity meetings and exercises will be hosted by the DHS and New York’s State Board of Elections in six regions until June 18, a week prior to the state’s federal primary elections. There will be other closed-door meetings between New York officials and other local government workers as well as state police, Reuters reported.

Cuomo’s office said New York is the first state in the nation to hold such cybersecurity meetings, amid a broader plan to use some $5 million in state funds and nearly $20 million in federal grants to combat scenarios like the Russians’ election hacks.

Over the course of the exercises, information collected will be used to identify and respond to risks and vulnerabilities surrounding the state’s voting systems, the governor’s statement added.

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