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Parson, Ashcroft talk election security preparedness


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In the final countdown to the midterm election, state officials said they are confident in their ability to protect the integrity of the process and defend against cyber threats.

Gov. Mike Parson met with Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Missouri’s new Chief Information Officer Mike Cheles, the President of the Missouri County Clerk’s Association Cathy Daniels, and a representative from the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to discuss the state’s election security in advance of November 6, 2018.

“There is no evidence of any sort of attempt at any sort of real level,” said Ashcroft.

He noted that the network is probably scanned roughly 100,000 times a day, which is standard, and that all those scans are treated as if they are malicious. But, they haven’t seen a report of anything that indicates someone made any real effort to get access to the system.

“There is no evidence of any votes potentially being changed. There is no evidence of voter registrations being changed,” said Ashcroft.

The Secretary of State’s Office is a national leader in election security issues, working with secretaries across the country in hosting the first National Election Security Summit in St. Louis.

“Thanks to Secretary Ashcroft’s leadership, Missourians should be confident in the integrity of our elections,” said Governor Parson. “And, just like Jay has been saying all along ‘If you’re registered to vote, you can vote.’”

Missouri also has received a grant from the federal government which is earmarked for upgrading the voter registration system and hardening local election authorities systems.

Parson noted that the State of Missouri is committed to protecting the data of the public, which is why he has instructed Missouri Office of Administration’s Office of Cyber Security to continuously think of new ways to train state employees on cybersecurity.

The division administers online end-user awareness training to state employees with interactive monthly training, which covers topics like phishing, password strength, and physical security. The office also launches fake phishing campaigns against state employees to assess their end-user awareness and provide more education.

OCS is an award-winning government cybersecurity office and has been recognized as a national leader in cybersecurity. Most recently, OCS was a finalist and the overall winner for the 2018 Cybersecurity Award at the 30th Annual National Association of State Chief Information Officers Awards.

“Missouri is on the leading edge across the nation, providing the tools and resources necessary to ensure our state workers are prepared to identify and defend against cyber threats,” said Parson.