On June 7, 2018, the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) hosted one of a series of statewide exercises that focus on cybersecurity preparedness and response to threats to New York State election systems. These first-of-their-kind tabletop exercises are sponsored by NYS Board of Elections (BOE) and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the NY Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, NY State Police, and the NYS Intelligence Center.
Taking place in the College of Law, the Onondaga County tabletop exercise–like the other five regional exercises–was designed to identify areas for improvement in cyber incident planning, preparedness, and response through realistic scenarios that simulate the undermining of voter confidence, voting operations interference, and attacks on the integrity of elections.
State and local officials, led by the BOE and DHS Cyber Incident Response Team, will utilize information gleaned from these tabletop exercises with state, local, and federal stakeholders to identify risks and develop necessary steps to safeguard the election process.
Contoured for each region, the scenarios are based on a combination of real world events and potential risks facing election infrastructure. These threats include possible social media manipulation, disruption of voter registration information systems and processes, attacks on voting machines, and the exploitation of board of elections business networks.
The tabletop exercises are part of a BOE cybersecurity plan that was approved on May 3, 2018, to further strengthen cyber protections for New York’s elections infrastructure through the Secure Elections Center.