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Corroding Voter Morale: One Of Florida's Biggest Threats To Its 2020 Elections

computer screen with the word "security" on it, a cursor is poised below the word as if to click on it.

Florida’s Cybersecurity Task Force is warning the state against indirect attacks that could interfere with the 2020 elections. 

Secretary of State Laurel Lee is speaking at Florida's Cybersecurity Task Force Meeting. She explains that there are direct and indirect attacks on Florida's election system. Direct attacks: when someone tampers with voting machines. Indirect attacks: when someone tampers with the system surrounding the machines—be it elections websites or social media.

“You can invest very heavily in the latest software assets and firewalls but a single employee who clicks the wrong link can undermine and expose your network," says Lee. "She's concerned over indirect attacks that could erode people’s trust in elections."

Lee notes how unofficial election results — the initial tallies appearing on a local supervisor’s website are a common target.

"For example, 2020 is a presidential election year and if our website is defaced such that it reflects that the losing candidate won, and I have to go out the next morning and explain to the press and public that the winner was actually the other candidate — we have lost such critical public trust.” 

Lee says alarms, printers, and even electrical systems could be hijacked through email phishing, Trojan horses, and more. She’s now working with elections officials to teach what she calls: “cyber-hygiene.” It refers to best practices that should be done regularly to ward off cyber security threats.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.