The Gate 15 Interview: Elections Security 2020, with the FBI and the Elections Infrastructure ISAC

In this episode of The Gate 15 Interview, Andy Jabbour talks with Ben Spear, Director of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) and Al Murray, currently serving as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge over Cyber Investigations at FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO). In our discussion we address:

  • Recent election history and security issues;
  • Threats to the upcoming 2020 election;
  • What to expect on election day (and after);
  • Words of wisdom for citizens and elections officials.

Please enjoy this episode of The Gate 15 Interview on Anchor, Apple, Spotify, as well as other locations.

“At the FBI, we’re working closely with our intelligence community partners, as well as our other federal, state, and local partners, to share information, bolster security, and identify and disrupt any threats. We’re not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election. When we see indications of foreign interference or federal election crimes, we’re going to aggressively investigate and work with our partners, to quickly take appropriate action. We’re also coordinating with the private sector—both technology and social media companies—to make sure that their platforms are not used by foreign adversaries to spread disinformation and propaganda. We’ve been working for years as a community to build resilience in our election infrastructure—and today that infrastructure remains resilient. You should be confident that your vote counts. Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.” – FBI Director Christopher Wray, Remarks at Press Conference on Election Security, 21 Oct.

Ben Spear, Director, EI-ISAC. Ben Spear is the Director of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) at the Center for Internet Security. A cybersecurity resource for state and local election officials, Ben coordinated the nationwide deployment of an elections-focused cyber defense suite in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. Prior to this, Ben served in various roles on the MS-ISAC intelligence team, developing innovative new ways to identify and present current cyber threat trends to state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) constituents and providing expertise on critical infrastructure security. With his past experience developing law enforcement training for New York State and educational background in history, political science, and public administration, Ben provides a unique perspective to understanding the who, how, and why of malicious cyber activity. In his free time, Ben can be found with his wife at one of the many festivals in New York’s Capital Region, a concert or Broadway musical, or planning their next big trip. Ben is an avid reader of political and technology blogs and has a knack for strategy games.

Al Murray, Assistant Special Agent in Charge over Cyber Investigations, FBI WFO. Albert Murray III currently serves as an Assistant Special Agent In Charge of Washington Field Office’s Cyber Branch. Prior to joining the Washington Field Office, Mr. Murray was at FBI Headquarters where he had oversight of all unattributed and criminal cyber investigations as well as the FBI’s Cyber Task Force program. Previously, Mr. Murray served as the program coordinator for the NY Cyber Branch. Before becoming the program coordinator, Mr. Murray supervised a squad responsible for investigations involving financially-motivated cyber intrusions and emerging cyber threats. As a field agent, Mr. Murray specialized in long-term investigations of cyber-criminal enterprises. In 2010, while in the New York Office, Mr. Murray was awarded the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Cyber Investigation due to his work on a multi-year investigation into a criminal enterprise. Prior to joining the FBI, Mr. Murray worked as a corporate investigations consultant for a large accounting firm. While working for the consulting firm, ASC Murray designed and managed the application which adjudicated claims for the September 11th Victim’s Compensation Fund. Mr. Murray is from Kansas City, Missouri, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from Duke University. Twitter: FBI Washington Field Office.

Find out more about EI-ISAC and the WFO as well as a few initial links that were mentioned in our recording:

  • EI-ISAC. “The Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center™ (EI-ISAC®) was established by the EIS-GCC to support the cybersecurity needs of the elections subsector. Through the EI-ISAC, election agencies will gain access to an elections-focused cyber defense suite, including sector-specific threat intelligence products, incident response and remediation, threat and vulnerability monitoring, cybersecurity awareness and training products, and tools for implementing security best practices.”
  • FBI. The mission of the FBI is to “protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.” See more on FBI vision, priorities and other info here.
  • FBI Election Crimes and Security Resources (including Public Service Announcements)
  • FBI WFO. The WFO covers the District of Columbia and the following counties in Virginia: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Manassas, and Prince William. Washington Field Office page.
  • FBI Protected Voices. “The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides tools and resources to political campaigns, companies, and individuals to protect against online foreign influence operations and cybersecurity threats. Protected Voices resources include information and guidance from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).”
  • National Association of Secretaries of State, #TrustedInfo2020. “NASS has launched #TrustedInfo2020—an education effort to promote election officials as the trusted sources of election information. By driving voters directly to election officials’ websites and social media pages, we will ensure voters are getting accurate election information and cut down on the misinformation and disinformation that can surround elections. #TrustedInfo2020 aims to highlight state and local election officials as the credible, verified sources for election information.”
  • Andy’s InfraGardNCR post: Vantage Point: InfraGardNCR, an election season challenge, 08 Oct.
  • For additional references and resources, many of which were mentioned in the podcast, please access the file below.
DHS CISA Director Chris Krebs

This Gate 15 Interview is a monthly interview between Gate 15’s founder and Managing Director, Andy Jabbour and guests from throughout the homeland security risk management community addressing a wide range of all-hazards topics and issues. Read more about Gate 15’s full podcast menu at our Podcast page. You can subscribe and enjoy all the Gate 15 Podcasts on Anchor, Apple, Spotify, as well as other locations accessible from the Anchor link. Week-to-week, you can hear and learn more about our all-hazards threats, risks, mitigation and other issues impacting homeland security risk management from our team as well as our regular and special guests. The full podcast menu includes:

  • The Risk Roundtable, is a recurring monthly discussion among our team and occasional guests as we explore the all-hazards threats and risks impacting the United States and internationally.
  • The Cybersecurity Evangelist, with Jennifer Lyn Walker, is a cybersecurity-focused discussion with Jen and invited guests.
  • Nerd Out! Security Panel Discussion, moderated by Dave Pounder, focuses on physical security topics including terrorism, extremism, hostile events, and other pertinent topics.
  • The Gate 15 Interview, is a monthly interview between Gate 15’s founder and Managing Director, Andy Jabbour and guests from throughout the homeland security risk management community addressing a wide range of all-hazards topics and issues.

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