The recent data breach of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) just days before the convention sparked concerns over the safety of the electoral system in regards to cyber-attacks. As a result, top Democrats on the House and Senate Homeland Security committees have requested that the national elections be defined as critical infrastructure under federal cyber protections. In fact, experts in cyber predict more hacks and data breaches as the general election approaches, installing fears that the integrity of the election will be impacted. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Tom Carper (D-DE) requested “the federal government play a supporting role in helping address the potential for these types of attacks. Designating election systems as critical infrastructure could improve and expand our nation’s ability to prevent and to respond to potential cyberattacks originating both from inside or outside our borders,” he said.
DHS defines critical infrastructure as “the essential services that underpin American society and serve as the backbone of our nation’s economy, security and health,” which could certainly include national elections. If added, election security would be included in the Department’s critical infrastructure protection programs. Caper also asked the DHS to keep in mind state and local governments when defining critical infrastructure, explaining that state and local-level cyber threats cold have national impacts.