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US Elections, American Businesses Still Extremely Vulnerable to Hacking

If GAO measures aren’t implemented across the board, it’s possible the United States electoral system could be hit during the 2020 election season, providing a major threat to the democratic process.

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in September of last year identifying major cybersecurity challenges the federal government and businesses face.

“GAO has identified four major cybersecurity challenges and 10 critical actions that the federal government and other entities need to take to address them. GAO continues to designate information security as a government-wide high-risk area due to increasing cyber-based threats and the persistent nature of security vulnerabilities,” the report begins.

However, what followed raises concerns about cybersecurity across the board. The United States government continues to worry about election integrity after the 2016 controversy. Businesses on an international level also continue to worry about securing the private data of their customers and proprietary information.

GAO has made over 3,000 recommendations to agencies aimed at addressing cybersecurity shortcomings in each of these action areas, including protecting cyber critical infrastructure, managing the cybersecurity workforce, and responding to cybersecurity incidents. Although many recommendations have been addressed, about 1,000 have not yet been implemented. Until these shortcomings are addressed, federal agencies’ information and systems will be increasingly susceptible to the multitude of cyber-related threats that exist.

Alleged data security breaches by The Dark Overlord organization and other black hat infiltration of businesses express how important cybersecurity is at all levels of modern society, especially with data breaches being up over 75 percent in the past two years.

How to Limit Cybersecurity Threats

“Data breaches should not be the new normal. Yet, even after compromises of 3 billion Yahoo email addresses, the credit profiles of 150 million Americans at Equifax, and the personal information of up to 500 million Marriott guests, the U.S. government has yet to take action. Congress can do so now by legislating policies that help to move security away from the end-user,” The Hill reported earlier in the month. “Any effective cybersecurity strategy will require the right people to do the job. Right now, we don’t have them. There is a dangerous shortage of people to implement what needs to be done to make America safe in the digital age. Right now, there are an estimated 300,000 cybersecurity jobs going unfilled in this country, from top managers and technicians to every kind of support personnel,” they continued.

Michael Daugherty, Founder and CEO of LabMD, commented on the situation businesses face: “Your organization is going to get attacked. It’s not ‘if,’ but ‘when.’ The only question is, how will your organization handle it? Your organization, not your CISO or security department. I say that because the world has changed and cybersecurity is not one person’s job. Cybersecurity must be the corporate culture.”

While not every company will be the face of a major security breach, it’s important every business takes the necessary security measures to protect data.

Several companies have created software enhanced with security measures while eliminating administration burdens. One bonus some software systems feature is automatic patch management, which could have prevented the aforementioned Equifax security breach. These type of features help companies secure their infrastructure by ensuring the latest software update is always installed.

How Severe Are Cyber Security Threats?

NBC News reported in February of last year the threat to election sovereignty in the United States:

The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election — but never told the states involved, according to multiple U.S. officials. Top-secret intelligence requested by President Barack Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts — synthesizing months of work — had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases. Three senior intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community believed the states as of January 2017 were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin [sic].

If GAO measures aren’t implemented across the board, it’s possible the United States electoral system could be hit during the 2020 election season, providing a major threat to the democratic process.

Without a proper security infrastructure in place, corporations put the privacy of their customers at risk, which has often resulted in a public backlash. Loss of intellectual property and revenue, and in severe cases, companies, could be forced to cease operations after a data breach.


Walter Yeates

Walter Yeates is a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who embedded at Standing Rock with military Veterans and First People in December 2016. He covers a range of topics at Citizen Truth and is open for tips and suggestions. Twitter: www.twitter.com/GentlemansHall or www.twitter.com/SmoothJourno Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/walteryeates

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