Ex-cyber officials demand to know security measures for 2020 Census

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Former government cyber and technology officials are calling on the Census Bureau to publicly share its cybersecurity preparations for the 2020 Census after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians for the 2016 hack into the Democratic National Committee.

In a letter Monday, coordinated by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, the former officials asked Ron Jarmin, acting director of the Census Bureau, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to publicly explain the technical protocols and systems the bureau will use to ensure the security of data obtained electronically in the 2020 Census.

They also asked questions about the security of data that will be obtained through paper forms before being scanned and stored electronically.

The 2020 Census marks the first time a large percentage of responses will be captured electronically online.

“At a minimum, and as an alternative if deemed preferable, we urge Commerce Department and Census Bureau leadership to retain a reputable outside cybersecurity firm to conduct an end-to-end audit of current plans for data protection associated with the 2020 Census and, in turn, to have such a firm either confirm (ideally publicly) the adequacy of existing cybersecurity protocols and procedures or assist in addressing any gaps or vulnerabilities identified,” said the letter, which was signed by Dipayan Ghosh, former senior advisor on technology policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Christopher Painter, former coordinator for cyber issues at the State Department.

The effort includes former officials from the White House, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, NSA, Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and State Department.  

The letter come after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Friday that 12 Russian intelligence officials had been indicted for hacking into the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

“We urge the leadership of the Bureau and of the Department of Commerce to share publicly their plans for protecting information vital to the future of American voting but also tempting for adversaries that seek to harm our country and its foundational democratic processes,” the former officials said in the letter.

“Such transparency and leadership would boost public confidence and also allow cybersecurity experts outside the government to offer assistance in addressing any concerns that they might identify.”

Tags Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Wilbur Ross
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