Cyber9linefeatureAll states and territories are showing interest in utilizing Cyber-9 Line, a fairly new election security portal being implemented by the federal government for the 2020 general elections. The U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and National Guard established the cyberdefense portal to prevent election interference by foreign and domestic malicious actors.

The Cyber-9 Line system works by allowing for a state’s National Guard, which is assigned to securing state and local elections, to immediately report cyber-attacks to USCYBERCOM. However, collaboration between all sectors is integral to effective cyberdefense. So, when a warning signal goes out, it is also transmitted to other participating intelligence organizations, including the Department of Defense, state and local IT departments, the National Governors Association, and more. This allows government security forces to act quickly in the event of an election breach.

A ransomware attack in Dorchester County, Md., in January designed to test the efficacy of Cyber-9 Line proved the software’s effectiveness.  Upon learning of the attack, the county quickly turned to the portal, and in less than 48 hours the Maryland Air National Guard and its state partners arrived onsite to the county’s offices. In the November general elections, through a collaborative effort, Cyber-9 will provide USCYBERCOM with an overview of any cyberattacks that occur.

The upcoming 2020 general election will undoubtedly be one of the biggest in our lifetimes. In addition to the heavy political polarization involved, the election will be defined by the need for extensive cybersecurity measures to prevail in order to defend against malicious actors. Cyber-9 Line could provide significant support in this area. Mail-in voting is another subject.

Juan Melgar

Juan Melgar

Research Analyst, State & Local Government