Securing election infrastructure and ensuring an election free from foreign interference are national security priorities. Threats to election systems are constantly evolving, so defending these systems requires constant vigilance, innovation, and adaptation. State and local election officials nationwide are responsible for the operation and administration of elections. As the lead federal agency responsible for securing the Nation’s elections, CISA partners with election owners, operators, and other stakeholders to enhance the security and resilience of election infrastructure, and to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the free and fair elections foundational to the American way of life.
Additionally, as part of the effort to #Protect2020, CISA is working with national partners to build resilience to foreign interferences, particularly information activities (e.g., disinformation, misinformation). The Department views foreign interference as malign actions taken by foreign governments or actors designed to sow discord, manipulate public discourse, discredit the electoral system, bias the development of policy, or disrupt markets for the purpose of undermining the interests of the United States and its allies. Responding to foreign interference requires a whole of society approach. Resources can be found at the bottom of the page.
#Protect2020 focuses on building outreach programs to engage local election officials in the over 8,000 election jurisdictions across the country in order to further assist elections officials’ efforts to identify and plan for potential vulnerabilities to election infrastructure ahead of and during the 2020 election season. In addition to engaging election officials, CISA’s 2020 efforts include engaging political campaigns, political parties, and political committees at the national level as the work to prepare for the 2020 elections.
#Protect2020 is being executed in coordination with the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (EI-GCC) through the focusing of election security efforts to the alignment of five key priorities:
- Increase engagement and support to local level elections officials
- Increase awareness of risks associated with inconsistent and insufficient resources
- Mature risk initiatives through Sector Specific Agency Councils
- Apply lessons-learned from 2018 to review and refine the communications mechanisms and content supporting the subsector
- Drive improved security practices in future election infrastructure
In addition to executing these priorities, CISA has outlined ambitious goals for the 2020 elections. These goals include:
- Achieving 100 percent auditability by 2020 so that all votes cast in 2020 and subsequent elections have a corresponding auditable record
- Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of audits
- Incentivizing the patching of election systems
- Working with states to develop current and target Cybersecurity profiles by utilizing the NIST framework
- Increasing election officials' awareness and participation in Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), CISA's free election services, Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center membership, and Albert sensor deployment
- Increased adoption of cyber best practices by state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) governments
Ensuring that the United States' electoral process is secure and resilient is one of CISA's top priorities. Through #Protect2020, CISA is partnering with election community stakeholders to ensure the continued vitality of the fair and free elections that characterize American democracy.
The resources below are intended to raise awareness of the threat as well as to inform the public of best practices for responding.
- Foreign Interference Taxonomy. An infographic that defines terms and concepts.
- War on Pineapple: Understanding Foreign Interference in 5 Steps. A website that illustrates how information campaigns have been carried out in the past to exploit divisions in the United States.
- The War on Pineapple: Understanding Foreign Interference in 5 Steps. An infographic that illustrates how information campaigns have been carried out in the past to exploit divisions in the United States.
- Disinformation Stops With You. An infographic that describes what to look for and how to lessen the impact of foreign influence operations. Follow these steps to stop foreign influence operations:
- Think Before You Link. This one-pager urges everyone to take a moment to investigate the source and content of provocative content before sharing it with others.
- Talk to Your Circle. This one-pager helps you talk with your social circle about the risks of spreading disinformation.
- Recognize the Risk. This one-pager helps you understand how adversaries try to influence behavior.
- Question the Source. This one-pager helps you check for a diversity of credible sources, consider who produced the content and question their intent.
- Investigate the Issue. This one-pager highlights the importance of searching reliable sources before sharing. Before sharing a controversial or emotionally charged article, post, tweet or meme you read, take a few moments to investigate the issue to ensure you are not amplifying disinformation.
- Search Results. A one-pager how to understand search results. Coming soon!
- Social Media Bots Overview. An infographic that describes how to identify and understand social media bots.
US Government Reading
- U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Report: Putin's Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security, January 2018
- Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller
- Internet Research Agency Indictment
- Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution, January 2017
The information you have accessed or received is provided "as is" for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding this information. DHS does not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply their endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by DHS.
- Debunking Handbook and Infographic
- How to Spot False News Infographic
- 10 Types of Mis-and Disinformation Infographic
- 12 Ways to Spot a Bot
- Trumpet of Information: 5 Lessons for Reporting in an Age of Discrimination
- Information Disorder: An interdisciplinary Framework
- Countering Adversary Threats to Democratic Institutions: An Expert Report
- The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe
- How Democracies Can Defend Against Disinformation
- Whose Truth? Sovereignty, Disinformation, and Winning the Battle of Trust
- How to Combat Fake News and Disinformation
- Countering Russian Social Media Influence
- Russian Firehouse of Falsehood Propaganda
- The State and Local Election Counter Information Operations Playbook. A playbook designed to provide election officials with tools to identify, report, and respond to information operations. Coming soon!
Join the EI-ISAC
CISA's Election Services
Election Security Resource Library