Secretary of State Gorbea hosts cybersecurity summit

Local News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Looking ahead to the 2022 midterm elections, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and 39 municipal election officials met with information technology professionals and national experts on Wednesday to discuss cybersecurity.

It’s an ever-growing threat in the country and around the world, according to the representatives from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Department of Homeland Security and FBI. In their presentations, the experts provided ways communities could improve their cybersecurity, including best practices on securing passwords and how to keep a secure network. One suggestion was for each municipality to change its website to a “.gov” domain.

Protocol Networks in Johnston has partnered with the state to check in with each city and town to see how their network touches the Board of Canvassers’ system and how that could impact elections.

Some 145 participants joined the conference via teleconference and heard from Dr. James Ludes, the vice president for public research and initiatives at the Pell Center at Salve Regina.

“The danger that I’m really worried about around the lies that are told around election integrity are that they undermine the fairness and freeness of American elections,” Ludes said, stressing there is no proof anyone ever meddled with election results or ballots, but that Russia and other foreign entities provided misinformation on social media and other platforms in hopes of swaying the 2016 presidential election.

He said the goal is to make sure no one ever changes election results or ballots in the future through cybercrime or other means. Ludes added that the more cybersecurity is discussed, and the more misinformation is publicly debunked, the stronger the country’s democracy will be.

Congressman Jim Langevin submitted a video for the conference, in which he stressed the importance of secure elections and how, as co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, he has secured millions of dollars toward the cause.

Gorbea held similar cybersecurity summits in 2017 and 2019.

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