If you’ve been concerned about the integrity of the upcoming elections, you’ll likely be relieved to hear that the National Guard is activating cybersecurity teams in 14 states to ensure no shenanigans sully the midterms.
National Guard Cyber Forces were previously activated in eight states during primary elections held earlier this year, and they will now head to North Carolina, Arizona, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Washington, and West Virginia ahead of Tuesday’s elections.
“The move is part of a wider effort to ensure the midterms are secure from cybersecurity threats, which have loomed large in recent years since Russian interference operations in 2016,” Politico reports.
National Guard officials will coordinate with and receive security updates from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which, according to its website, “acts as the quarterback for the federal cybersecurity team, protecting and defending the home front—our federal civilian government networks—in close partnership with the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible federal cyber security overall.”
CISA was created in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump “to work across public and private sectors, challenging traditional ways of doing business by engaging with government, industry, academic, and international partners.”
The CISA Act reorganized and rebranded “the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), a program inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as CISA, a standalone federal agency in charge of overseeing civilian and federal cybersecurity programs,” ZDNet reported at the time.
While the word “fascist” has been thrown at Donald Trump since he rode down the escalator and announced his first run for the White House, we would be remiss if we didn’t note that partnerships between “public and private sectors” is the literal definition of fascism.
But after the left lost their collective mind over Trump’s 2016 victory and began screaming about Russian interference in the elections, few saw the creation of CISA as anything other than a prudent step forward.
Flash-forward a few years, and CISA is now working with the military to oversee what will arguably be the most consequential midterm elections in modern American history.
Now heading CISA is Director Jen Easterly, who was nominated by President Joe Biden in April 2021.
Prior to leading CISA, Easterly was the head of Firm Resilience at Morgan Stanley and, before that, she served as Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Counterterrorism.
“She also served as the Deputy for Counterterrorism at the National Security Agency,” her bio reads.
Though questioning the integrity of the elections may now be considered an anti-American crime, it’s difficult not to feel like a fox is now in charge of protecting the chickens, as it is CISA that will be updating the National Guard on Tuesday.
According to Air Force Maj. Gen. Rich Neely who heads the Illinois National Guard, the support of National Guard Cyber Forces will make the elections more secure.
“Cyber’s that new domain. It’s a man-made domain,” he said, according to StateScoop. “Our goal is to make sure we have as secure elections as possible. We are at the really beginning stages of this.”
Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, commander of the Washington Air National Guard, said on Friday that a cyber unit is crucial to protecting the elections in every state.
“One of the things making a lot of this possible are states that’ve just decided to do it,” he said during a Friday media briefing. “Not everyone’s doing it, and those that are have invested in cyber talent and cyber missions for years. If you don’t have a cyber unit in your state you’re not in a good position to help them protect elections.”
In total, the National Guard boasts 38 cyber units with more than 2,200 personnel dedicated to supporting state and local officials with issues such as network assessments and risk mitigation, Politico reports.
In North Carolina, a Joint Cyber Mission Center, comprised of National Guard members and federal liaisons from CISA and the Department of Homeland Security has been set up.
Currently, the state has “core teams” of 10 cyber experts, but according to Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, adjunct general of the North Carolina National Guard, that number is expected to “surge.”
“We will surge during the election to ensure that we have 24-hour coverage throughout this whole process,” he said during the same press briefing. “We are citizen soldiers, we live in this state, and we do have a vested interest in our state elections as well as our federal elections.”
While the teams gear up for a potential cyber battle, Easterly says CISA has “no information, credible or specific, about efforts to disrupt or compromise” the midterms or election-related systems, Fox News Digital reports.
And just in case you were worried about “foreign and domestic actors” spreading disinformation online, you can relax.
According to Fox, “CISA and state election officials” will be monitoring for that, too.
As one user on Twitter put it, “Nothing suspicious about that, is there?”
Nothing suspicious about that, is there?
— B3ryant (@B3ryant) November 5, 2022
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