States reach out to DHS for election cybersecurity help

WASHINGTON — As the Nov. 8 presidential election draws closer, dozens of states have asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for help securing their voting computer systems.

So far, 36 states and 11 county or local election agencies have approached DHS for cybersecurity services, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a release.

Twenty states have reported attempted hacks involving their election systems.

The DHS cybersecurity services include “cyber hygiene” scans for systems connected to the internet, and risk and vulnerability assessments.

“We can conduct cyber hygiene scans remotely and provide state and local election officials with a report identifying vulnerabilities and recommendations to improve online voter registration systems, election night reporting systems and other internet-connected election systems,” Johnson said.

Time is a factor, though, because it can take two weeks to run the scans and at least another week to mitigate any system vulnerabilities found, he said.