Securing Connected Election Systems for 2020 - Part 1

Secure America

How Counties can Upgrade Old Voting Equipment and Achieve Secure, Constant Connectivity and Cost Savings

A main priority for the 2020 elections is ensuring that voter data is protected and secure after hackers targeted a reported 21 states in the 2016 election. State, local, tribal and territorial governments have the right to operate their own election procedures and must take their own precautions in setting up a voting system with security at the top of mind.

In 2018, Congress set aside $380 million so that counties across the U.S. can upgrade their voting systems.  The use of old voting machines and equipment that isn’t manufactured anymore creates considerable security vulnerabilities that are unable to be patched, or machines breaking down when they’re needed the most. This time around the highest priority will be ensuring election results have better built-in cyber defenses and can continue to operate resiliently.

Security is such a large factor because counties need the assurance that voter data and personal information remains completely private. Further, with many having few to no IT staff onsite, counties need a network solution that is fast to deploy and is easy to maintain with the ability to troubleshoot connectivity and security remotely.

There are some excellent resources for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial government IT leaders for how to secure all aspects of an election systems infrastructure including endpoint and application security.  The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center’s (NCCIC) has documented best practices for securing election systems infrastructure - Security Tip (ST19-001).  Additionally the Center for Internet Security has a “Handbook for Elections Infrastructure Security” that has prioritize list of security requirements to follow for securing election systems.

Counties that are using Internet connected voting systems also need reliable, secure, and constant connectivity for their temporary polling places. These locations stretch all across the U.S. from places like rural towns — where it might be difficult to get connectivity — to big cities.

Secure Connectivity for Elections

Cradlepoint offers secure edge networking for elections through its NetCloud Service for branch and pop-up networks.  Cloud-managed and software-defined routers include advanced security and Unified Threat Management (UTM) features, such as app-based control, multi-zone firewall, web content filtering, and comprehensive Intrusion Protection System (IPS) and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and secure web gateway functionality from Z-Scaler.

Through NetCloud Manager, Cradlepoint’s cloud-based network management service — regardless if there is only one vote center, or hundreds or thousands, the network can be managed from one centralized management and reporting location. NetCloud Manager provides zero touch deployment of all edge routers and with a consistent and updated configuration. This saves time with over tasked IT teams and provides complete reporting and visibility down to the web sites visited, the applications running at each location, and any threats that have been mitigated by the layered security functions running at each location.

The Cradlepoint solution also comes with NetCloud Perimeter, a free software defined networking capability that delivers encrypted network isolation from all common network access methods. This feature is used for isolation of any device that communicates over IP based networks. This ensures complete security and privacy of all communications because only devices that are invited to participate and authenticated can communicate on the private software defined network. NetCloud Perimeter uses an authenticate first connect later approach, and that authentication action is only possible via invitation to the network and can be managed via NetCloud Manager.

Connection Flexibility & Multi-Carrier Failover

For a constant connection and uptime in the most remote locations, counties can count on seamless failover between a variety of WAN sources, keeping election services up and running without downtime, which could be disastrous. In rural areas with inconsistent connectivity, the ability to leverage dual LTE modems to automatically fail over between carriers is the only way to ensure constant connectivity to ensure every vote is cast. 

Cost-Savings

Through multi-WAN connectivity, robust data security, cloud-based network management, and software-defined technologies saves significant money on hardware and IT man-hours.

Upcoming Election Security Webinar

To learn more about how to prepare for wireless vote system security, register for our upcoming webinar, Securing Election System: Risks and Solutions.