Virginia Approves 2020 Election Cybersecurity Standards

This year, the General Assembly passed HB 2178, calling for new, modern cybersecurity standards that must be met throughout the state before systems are allowed to access Virginia's election database.

by The Free Lance-Star / November 21, 2019
Residents arrive at their polling place to cast votes at St. Paul Methodist Church in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (John Sommers II/Getty Images/TNS) TNS

(TNS) — The Virginia State Board of Elections on Monday unanimously passed minimum security standards for all Virginia elections administrators to follow beginning next year.

In 2019, the General Assembly passed HB 2178, calling for new, modern cyber security standards that must be met throughout the Commonwealth before systems are allowed to access Virginia's election database, according to a news release from the state board. Since July, the Department of Elections along with a workgroup comprised of local government IT professionals and general registrars have met to compose a list of standards that will help to ensure the integrity of Virginia's voter registration system.

These new minimum security requirements for election administrators include, but are not limited to: setting new standards for creating secure passwords, requiring an increased emphasis on utilizing anti-virus protection on their election systems, and developing and training on incident response plans, the release stated.

"Virginia is already recognized as a national leader for our focus and prioritization of initiatives designed to maintain the integrity of our elections," said Department of Elections Commissioner Christopher Piper in a statement. "These new security standards will only bring even more support to our current efforts."

These standards will be updated on an annual basis to keep up with changing technology and emerging cyber security threats.

A Reuters story Monday in The New York Times reported that the United States should boost spending and take other "aggressive steps" to protect next year's presidential election from foreign meddling, citing a group of former national security officials.

National Security Action -- a group led by former advisers to President Barack Obama -- said there were signs U.S. rivals want to undermine the November 2020 poll. The group said states and agencies should invest in paper ballot backups for digital voting machines, ensure audits of election results, improve cybersecurity and boost training for poll workers, according to Reuters.

In Culpeper County, voters fill out paper ballots that are scanned into electronic voting machines not connected to the internet.

©2019 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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