LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new initiative spearheaded by USC is looking to provide solutions to protect the upcoming November general election from cyberattacks.
The USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative is a nonpartisan group which launched earlier this year with the goal of working to protect elections nationwide from cyberthreats.
The initiative, which is funded by Google, is holding online workshops in all 50 states to address the challenges of combating hackers and protect against cyberattacks.
“No single political party is behind this initiative. Our candidate is democracy,” the initiative’s website reads.
The workshops invite candidates, campaign workers and election officials to learn how to better protect elections from cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.
Adam Powell, the executive director for the program, says that the security issues brought on by candidates and staffers being forced to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic are unprecedented.
“That means they’re using computers and phones, maybe their personal devices, that are almost certainly less secure than the devices that are in their campaign and election offices,” Powell told CBSN LA. “This is far more complex and far more potentially dangerous than anything we’ve seen.”
Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom — citing coronavirus concerns — signed an executive order directing that a ballot be mailed to every voter in the state for the November election. The Republican Party sued Newsom over the order.
Several special elections which have taken place in the Southland over the last several weeks have been conducted almost solely by mail.
Eight federal intelligence agencies — including the FBI, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security — have stated that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 general election.