Experts point to states improving election security ahead of midterms

Experts point to states improving election security ahead of midterms
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States have stepped up their cybersecurity protections ahead of the Nov. 6 midterms, but are still lacking in some areas, according to a report released Tuesday by cyber experts.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that 40 states have invested more than $75 million in improving election security since the 2016 elections.

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Seventeen states are running security tests and adopting upgrades to improve their cybersecurity ahead of next month's elections, according to the CSIS report.

Still, the group's scorecard said the average grade for state election cybersecurity is a C-, and that states with toss-up Senate elections next month average an F for their security measures.

A panel of experts surveyed by CSIS agreed that Russia poses the greatest cyber threat to U.S. elections, after the country was determined to have successfully interfered in the 2016 election.

Eighty-one percent of the experts cited Russia as the preeminent cyber threat, with only 10 percent citing China as a top threat.

Those experts also said Russia is most likely to adopt an influence campaign to try and manipulate election results in the 2018 midterms. However, they also said Russia would likely direct more of their attention toward the 2020 presidential election.

Two-thirds of the experts said they think China will utilize an influence campaign, and 55 percent said they believed the country will also use cyber espionage against political campaigns or candidates.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE has asserted that China is trying to meddle in the 2018 midterms as a form of retaliation against his administration's trade moves toward the country.

Other federal officials have said that while China and countries like Russia and Iran are conducting influence campaigns, there are no signs of a foreign adversary trying to interfere with election infrastructure.

The Department of Justice unsealed its first indictment related to interference in the midterm elections earlier this month, charging a Russian national with overseeing finances for a conspiracy to influence U.S. political systems.