The Department of Homeland Security is mounting the largest operation to secure a U.S. election, trying to prevent a repeat of Russia’s 2016 interference and to ward off new threats posed by Iran and China, the Washington Post reports. On Election Day, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will launch a 24/7 virtual war room, to which election officials across the nation can dial in to share notes about suspicious activity and work together to respond. The agency will pass along classified information from intelligence agencies about efforts from adversaries seeking to undermine the election and advise states on how to protect against attacks. “I anticipate possibly thousands of local election officials coming in to share information in real time, to coordinate, to track down what’s real and what’s not, separate fact from fiction on the ground,” said Matt Masterson, DHS senior cybersecurity adviser.
The operation will run for days or weeks until winners are clear in most races — and potentially until the election is certified in December. “We’ll remain stood up until the [election] community tells us, ‘Okay, we’re good, you can stand down,’ ” Masterson said. The wide-ranging operation is the culmination of four years during which the agency has evolved to become the main federal government liaison to a nationwide system of election officials. The growth is notable because it has happened despite a lack of interest in election security from President Donald Trump. The agency has been aggressively responding to interference attempts for weeks already. As states brace for larger-scale attempts — including the possibility hackers may try to manipulate voter registration data or vote tallies, or otherwise prevent many people from casting ballots — the agency will convene dozens of officials from DHS, intelligence agencies, political parties, social media companies and voting machine vendors to orchestrate a government response.