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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research bloomington

IU receives $300,000 grant to improve cybersecurity for 2020 election

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Indiana General Assembly legislators awarded IU $301,958 to improve election cybersecurity across the state’s 92 counties.

Researchers at the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research are partnering with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to create and teach incident response plans to election officials across the state for the 2020 election. 

Von Welch,Director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, and his team are working alongside Secretary of State Connie Lawson to develop incident response training material. The initiative will train election officials from the state’s 92 counties on how to respond to incidents, such as power outages, social media threats or ransomware attacks during the 2020 election process.

Training initiatives will prepare election officials for computer problems or cybersecurity breaches. 

“One concern is what happens if there’s an incident related to the computers in the election?” Welch said. “Do they know how to appropriately respond?”

Welch and his staff are preparing for a conference this December where they will develop the initial training material. The training material will be tailored to address the different team sizes and voting equipment in the different counties. 

Welch and his team also collaborate with experts at the Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center and Cybersecurity Clinic to create plans to address all possible incidents. 

“Our role is to help train those counties across Indiana on how to respond to those threats,” he said. ”What to do, how to communicate.”

Training and outreach programs will be available to election officials at IU’s nine campuses. County clerks will conduct table-top exercises that simulate cyberattacks and allow the staff to practice their incident response plans.

“We are training them to be empowered for anything that comes up, so that they can handle it in a manner that keeps the elections running smoothly and with integrity,” he said.

After the election, Welch and his team will record post-election documentation from the different counties and seek improvements for the 2024 election.  

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