Electronic voting as safe as electricity and nuclear power?

In a recent Hartford Courant Op-Ed, Arthur House, chair of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and previous Director of Communications of the Director of National Intelligence addressed cyber threats to public utilities: State Utilities Girding Their Cyber Defenses <read>

Cyber offense and defense are rapidly evolving forms of warfare. Our public utilities are among the target s foreign powers have penetrated. Our vital public services are vulnerable. U.S. national security leadership has seen the exercise of cyber probes and weaponry, some in overt military action and others, including foreign actions in the United States, more exploratory — “battlefield preparation,” in military terms.

For public utilities and the states that regulate them, cyber threats risk denial of electricity, water, natural gas and telecommunications. Our state emergency managers include cyber threats in their portfolio of hurricanes, ice storms, other natural disasters and physical sabotage. Cyber threats present a new dimension to emergency management with potentially devastating consequences and without the certainty of adequate defenses…

.Connecticut is intensifying its work with its public utilities, which long ago started their cyber defense programs and initiated planni ng for dealing with disruption. Several strengthening steps are possible, such as requiring utilities annually publish a statement from a reputable security company affirming (or not) that the company takes reasonable steps to ensure cyber security.

The most difficult adjustment lies with all of us — understanding and accepting the reality of cyber vulnerability and its unpredictable consequences. In the past, Americans have been able to take action, find reasonable solutions and do what makes sense without giving up the essential. We can do it with cyber, but it’s time to kick into gear.. The threat is real, and the work will be demanding.

We cannot help but compare the concern of Mr. House for our utilities ability to protect the infrastructure, with the sure confidence of our Governor and Legislature in the ability of the Secretary of the State and local election officials to develop systems, at no cost, to make the Internet safe for online voting. Democracy is at least as important as the infrastructure.

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