WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) — Steps are being taken to prepare for cyberattacks as the Pennsylvania primaries approach.
A new policy from the FBI aims to keep the integrity of elections by allowing for easier access to resources.
Election officials said this policy isn’t something you will see at the polls. It’s all behind the scenes.
They believe it will provide a quicker way to address any cyberthreat.
“Having the FBI involved is a good thing,” Washington County Director of Elections Melanie Ostrander said.
According to the new FBI policy, if it detects a cyber threat, agents will call both the state and local board of elections.
Before, the FBI only called the local board, who then had to call the state.
Ostrander said the policy cuts the middle man and lets problems get solved quicker.
“We will be able to quickly combat the thirst and not have to relay information. Go back and ask questions. Everybody involved will be able to ask their questions right away,” Ostrander said.
The goal is to make sure no votes are compromised and avoid controversy.
Allegheny County leaders are embracing the new policy.
David Voye, manager of the elections division, and Jason Ditzenberger, director of the department of information technology, issued this joint statement:
“We applaud the FBI for its new policy for notifying state and local elections officials of cyber intrusions affecting election infrastructure, and welcome the information. Timely and vetted information from trusted sources is critical to maintaining the security and integrity of the election process.
“We are committed to using all available resources to administer secure elections. The information provided as a result of this new FBI policy will augment information received from MS-ISAC (Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center), DHS CISA (Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), and private security firms already in use by the county.
“Any information provided to us will be used to further strengthen its existing elections security and incident management practices and to quickly and effectively defend against and thwart active threats.”
Ostrander said Pennsylvania is already in good shape to prevent any cyber threats involving election machines.
“Our machines are not connected to any internet connection, so there is no outside threat through the internet with hacking,” Ostrander said.
The Pennsylvania Department of State, who “promotes the integrity of the electoral process,” sent KDKAK a statement, saying:
“The Pennsylvania Department of State welcomes and supports the FBI’s new policy regarding notification of state and local election officials of any cyber intrusions. The FBI is one of Pennsylvania’s valued election security partners. Their new policy reflects the growing partnership between federal, state and local officials to protect the integrity of our elections.”
This policy will be used during the upcoming primary on April 28th.
Ostrander told KDKA that Washington Co. hasn’t had cyberattacks in the past.