Harmonizing cybersecurity regulations imposed on state governments was a good idea before the pandemic. Now, it should be a top priority to help states address current challenges and defend the 2020 election.
State governments are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic. While saving lives and addressing urgent public health needs remains the focus, state leaders must also prepare for the 2020 elections and address cybersecurity threats. As Congress and the administration consider ways to provide assistance, streamlining federal regulations should be atop the list.
This month, senior House Democrats, led by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urging that the next federal spending package include funding to support state and local government cybersecurity. The lawmakers warned that state governments already face serious threats, including widespread ransomware attacks. Now, many state employees are working remotely. Demand for state IT services is surging as people apply for unemployment benefits and other assistance.
States also face serious challenges defending election infrastructure from potential cybersecurity threats. More than 8,000 different jurisdictions administer our elections. Voter registration databases and other government information systems are vulnerable to potential attacks.
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