Former White House CIO Theresa Payton: 'There Are Grave Concerns About Election Interference'


Former White House CIO Theresa Payton: ‘There Are Grave Concerns About Election Interference’

Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice Solutions, is among the most influential specialists on cybersecurity and IT technique within the United States. She is an authority on Internet safety, information breaches and fraud mitigation.

She served as the primary feminine chief data officer on the White House, overseeing IT operations for President George W. Bush and his workers.

With the U.S. midterm elections quick approaching, each Payton’s observations concerning the present cybersecurity risk stage and her recommendation about shoring up the nation’s defenses carry particular weight.

theresa payton ceo fortalice solutions

In this unique interview, she additionally shares her views on social networking, privateness, and the altering enjoying subject for ladies who aspire to management roles in know-how.

TechNewsWorld: What is the chief cyberthreat to the upcoming midterm elections?

Theresa Payton: My largest fear and concern is that residents won’t belief election outcomes and that the election course of will lose legitimacy. We know that the Department of Homeland Security, working with state election officers, have raced towards the clock to safe voting techniques. Our U.S. intelligence companies have repeatedly been on the report stating there isn’t a proof that cybercriminals modified or deleted any votes in 2016.

The subsequent space of concern is for the communications, contacts, and digital campaigns of candidates being damaged into and doxed. While the information focuses on securing the votes and the voter databases of the midterm elections, there’s not a variety of consideration on whether or not or not campaigns take threats focusing on their campaigns significantly. Nothing would hit nearer to dwelling for a candidate than if their election was hacked and so they misplaced — or received.

“Cyber” is definitely a buzzword, however it’s not a phrase with out that means. With the onslaught of breaches, candidates needs to be laser-focused on cybersecurity.

TNW: What ought to federal officers do to shore up election safety? What ought to state and native governments do? Where does the buck cease?

Payton: It’s essential that elected officers on the left and proper not politicize a difficulty within the brief time period that may have grave long-term penalties for nationwide safety.

Defensively, we have to harden our election infrastructure on the native stage. This is the duty of the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS must proceed to work on the native stage with state election officers, but additionally to offer rather more strong cybersecurity capabilities for cover and detection on the marketing campaign stage.

We additionally have to ensure that the intelligence and homeland safety neighborhood is successfully sharing data and instruments, methods and techniques.

TNW: How critical are issues that election interference is perhaps attributable to tampering with back-end election techniques? What can federal companies do to deal with the issues of outdated voting gear, insufficient election-verification procedures, and different potential vulnerabilities? Is there an argument to be made for some stage of necessary federal oversight of state and native voter techniques?

Payton: There are grave issues about election interference and the race to safe them, globally, is underneath manner. The concept that voter databases might be seeded with falsified information or modified has been round for many years, however the technical know-how and motive has caught up with that concept. Election officers in a race in direction of automation and effectivity could have helped criminals alongside, however it’s not too late if we act now.

Today, there are total international locations completely counting on digital voting: Brazil, since 2000, has employed digital voting machines, and in 2010 had 135 million digital voters. India had 380 million digital voters for its Parliament election in 2004.

It is straightforward to see why digital voting is the wave of the long run and the way the United States might mannequin its personal voting system after these international locations. It’s quicker, cheaper and extra accessible for these with disabilities. Also, would you miss the expertise of, or the reporting of, the every-election-day headline of “Long Lines at the Polls Today”? Probably not. That is definitely much less painful than a recount although.

We are headed in direction of digital voting as the only system we use regardless of these info:

  • “The U.S. intelligence neighborhood developed substantial proof that state web sites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives previous to the 2016 election — however by no means informed the states concerned, based on a number of U.S. officers,” NBC News reported earlier this 12 months.
  • Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails with the intention to “interfere with the U.S. election process,” based on the director of nationwide intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., and the Department of Homeland Security.
  • As far as we all know, regardless of the scans and alarm bells, no outdoors entity has modified any information within the registration database.
  • Scams corresponding to “text your vote” had been extra prevalent than ever, and can improve as digital voting turns into extra widespread.

The excellent news is our authorities took this very significantly. Prior to the midterm elections, the Department of Homeland Security supplied state election officers “cyber hygiene scans” to remotely seek for vulnerabilities in election techniques. They additionally performed risk briefings and onsite evaluations, in addition to launched a memo of “best practices” — steering how greatest to safe their voter databases.

Some have known as for extra federal oversight and transferring in direction of a extra restrictive safety mannequin, however the states personal the voting course of. Providing year-round briefings from DHS, FBI, CIA, and NSA would show to be very useful over time.

Also, now we have to recollect elections are decentralized. Sometimes there’s safety in obscurity. Each state in our nation, plus the District of Columbia, run their very own election operations, together with voter databases. A hostile nation state couldn’t feasibly wipe out every system with one wave of their magic wand.

How we vote, although, is simply one-way our elections might be compromised. Another concern going ahead have to be disruption of Internet visitors, as we noticed occurred simply days earlier than the final presidential election cycle on Oct. 21st, 2016, when the Mirai botnet crippled a part of the Internet for hours.

A large Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacked a bunch server inflicting main disruptions to a number of the most extremely visited web sites within the United States. The assault was in two waves, first on the East Coast after which on the West Coast.

As our nation votes on Election Day in numerous time zones, and polling stations shut at completely different instances, the similarity is chilling.

However, we want everybody to prove to vote. The give attention to bolstering our election safety defenses is reassuring. What we all know is the warning indicators are there. As we transfer in direction of the long run, and give attention to creating and defending a brand new system to gather our votes, we have to defend the one we have already got.

Two belongings you may be positive of after this 12 months’s election: Eventually, each vote you forged in a United States election can be digital, and a type of elections can be hacked. No doubt about it. But the recount in 2016 in Wisconsin reminds us all why we want a backup.

TNW: What are some methods candidates and campaigns can shore up their cybersecurity with out draining their warfare chests? What are a number of the practices they need to implement within the very early days? A marketing campaign that is very safe in the end may lose as a consequence of lack of visibility. How can campaigns strike the precise stability?

Payton: Never earlier than have campaigns collected a lot important data that might be profitable to so many cybercriminals. Credit card numbers, checking account data, addresses, on-line identities. The belongings go on and on, and cybercriminals are similar to financial institution robbers within the previous days: They observe the cash.

That is why in immediately’s day and age, if you’re on a marketing campaign, whether or not or not it’s state, nationwide or native, you might want to be as vigilant about defending information as any enterprise. Otherwise, you’ll lose your clients — also called constituents and voters.

Anyone on a good price range can observe these tips to guard their marketing campaign belongings:

  1. Make it as laborious as potential on cybercriminals by separating donor data particulars onto a totally separate area title with separate person IDs and passwords from the marketing campaign. For instance, your marketing campaign area is perhaps, however donor particulars can be saved at
  2. Using that very same follow, run all your inside communications on a website title that is not the marketing campaign title — i.e., electronic mail addresses shouldn’t be [email protected] however reasonably [email protected] Increase the extent of safety for inside messages through the use of encrypted messaging platforms for inside communications, corresponding to Signal or Threema.
  3. Also, be sure you encrypt all your marketing campaign’s donor information. We have but to listen to a report of a marketing campaign’s donor information being hacked and used for identification theft, however we’ll — of that I’m positive. It can be too profitable to not attempt. Once it’s hacked, it is going to be laborious to revive confidence in your operation. Just ask any main retailer, financial institution or group who has lately been hacked, and they’ll let you know. I do not even want to make use of their names, you realize the headlines.
  4. Train know-how and marketing campaign workers to identify spearphishing emails and scams. Oh, positive, you suppose everybody is aware of to not “click on that link,” however current research illustrate doing simply that’s the No. 1 explanation for breaches amongst workers.
  5. Another safeguard that raises the bar when it comes to safety is implementing two-factor authentication wherever possible. When you employ a platform that employs two-factor authentication, do not you’re feeling safer? Possibly aggravated, as effectively, however definitely reassured that the additional step has been taken to safe your information. Don’t you need the voters to really feel the identical manner?
  6. Finally, publish a privateness coverage that is simple to learn, simple to search out, and you will find voters have extra confidence in simply your agenda.

TNW: How effectively — or poorly — have Facebook, Twitter, Google and different tech firms addressed the issues that surfaced in 2016?

Payton: I used to be inspired to listen to that with lower than three weeks to go for the U.S. mid-terms, that Facebook has stood up a warfare room to fight social media neighborhood manipulation because the world heads into elections this fall and winter.

They have additionally mentioned they’ve war-gamed a lot of situations to make sure their crew is best ready for elections across the globe. Much is at stake, so the truth that Facebook additionally built-in the apps they’ve acquired — corresponding to WhatsApp and Instagram — into the combo of the warfare room is a superb thought.

If I had been to provide them recommendation, I might recommend that one other nice step to take can be to create a option to bodily embed representatives from legislation enforcement, different social media firms — together with Twitter, Linkedin and Google — and to permit election officers across the globe to have a “red phone” entry to the warfare room.

TNW: What are a number of the most urgent cybersecurity issues dealing with social networks, other than their use as political instruments?

Payton: The capability to vary their enterprise and moderator fashions, in actual time, to morph rapidly to close down pretend personas, pretend adverts, and pretend messaging selling political espionage, even when it means greater bills and lack of income. Social media firms have made a variety of progress for the reason that 2016 presidential elections and claims of global-wide election meddling, however the criminals have modified techniques and it is more durable to identify them.

On the heels of the August 2018 information that Microsoft seized six domains that Russian Internet trolls deliberate to make use of for political espionage phishing assaults across the similar time that Facebook deactivated 652 pretend accounts and pages tied to misinformation campaigns, Alex Stamos, the previous Facebook safety chief, posted an essay in Lawfare, and acknowledged that it was “too late to protect the 2018 elections.”

TNW: What position ought to the federal government play in defending residents’ privateness on-line?

Payton: As the Internet evolves, legal guidelines and laws should change extra quickly to replicate societal points and issues created by new varieties of habits going down on-line. Never earlier than has the world had entry to statements, footage, video and criticism by thousands and thousands of people who aren’t public figures.

The Internet supplies us with locations to doc our lives, ideas and preferences on-line, after which holds that materials for an indefinite time period — lengthy after we’d have outgrown our personal postings.

It additionally supplies locations the place we will criticize our bosses, native constructing contractors, or polluters.

This digital diary of our lives leaves tattered pages of our previous that we could overlook about as a result of we can not see them, however they might be collected, collated, and used to guage us or discriminate towards us with out due course of. The authorities must suppose forward and decide which legal guidelines have to be enacted to guard our proper to choose out and in of privateness options and to personal our digital lives and footprints.

TNW: What is your opinion of Europe’s “right to be forgotten” legislation? Do you suppose an identical legislation would make sense within the United States?

Payton: The European Union’s “right to be forgotten” units an fascinating precedent, not only for its member international locations however for residents around the globe. It is just too early to know what the long-term impacts of the EU’s resolution to implement a “right to be forgotten” with know-how firms can be. However, it is a protected wager the legislation will evolve and never disappear.

There are issues that providing you with or organizations extra management of their Internet identification, underneath a “right to be forgotten” clause, might result in [censorship] of the Internet. Free-speech advocates across the globe are involved that the shortage of court docket precedent and the grey areas of the EU legislation might result in stress for all tech firms to take away outcomes throughout the globe, delinking information tales and different data upon a person’s request.

A fast historical past lesson of how this legislation took place: A Spanish citizen filed a grievance with Spain’s Data Protection Agency and indicated that Google Spain and Google Inc. had violated his privateness rights by posting an public sale discover that his dwelling was repossessed. The matter was resolved years earlier however since “delete is never really delete” and “the Internet never forgets,” the non-public information about his monetary issues haunted his popularity on-line.

He requested that Google Spain and Google Inc. be required to take away the previous information so it could not present up in search engine outcomes. The Spanish court docket system reviewed the case and referred it to the European Union’s Court of Justice.

Here is an excerpt of what the May 2014 ruling of the EU Court mentioned:

“On the ‘Right to be Forgotten’: Individuals have the right — under certain conditions — to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them. This applies where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive for the purposes of the data processing . A case-by-case assessment is needed considering the type of information in question, its sensitivity for the individual’s private life and the interest of the public in having access to that information. The role the person requesting the deletion plays in public life might also be relevant.”

In the U.S., implementing a federal legislation is perhaps tempting, however the problem is that the flexibility to adjust to the legislation can be advanced and costly. This might imply that the following startup can be crushed underneath compliance and due to this fact innovation and startups will die earlier than they’ll get launched.

However, we do want a central place of advocacy and a type of a client privateness invoice of rights. We have cures to deal with points however it’s a posh internet of legal guidelines that apply to the Internet. Technology adjustments society quicker than the legislation can react, so U.S. legal guidelines referring to the Internet will all the time lag behind.

We have a Better Business Bureau to assist us with dangerous enterprise experiences. We have the FTC and FCC to help us with commerce and communications. Individuals want an advocacy group to attraction to, and for help in navigating on-line defamation, reputational danger, and a possibility to clean their on-line persona.

TNW: What is your angle towards social networking? What’s your recommendation to others concerning the trustworthiness of social networks?

Payton: Social networking can provide us superb methods to remain in contact with colleagues, mates and family members. It’s a private resolution as to how concerned you might be on-line, what number of platforms you work together with, and the way a lot of your life that you just digitally report or transact on-line.

If you wish to be on social media however do not wish to broadcast all the things about you, I inform my shoppers to show off location monitoring — or geolocation instruments — in social media. That manner you are not “checking in” locations. Cybercriminals use these check-ins to develop your sample of life and to trace your circle of belief. If a cybercriminal has these two patterns, it makes it simpler for them to hack your accounts.

Register for a web-based service that will provide you with a telephone quantity, corresponding to Google Voice or Talkatone. Provide that quantity on social media and ahead it to your actual cellphone. Avoid persona surveys and different surveys — they’re typically very enjoyable to do, however the data posted typically provides digital clues to what you could use in your password.

Always activate two-factor authentication in your accounts, and tie your social media accounts to an electronic mail deal with devoted to social media. Turn on alerts to inform you if there’s a login that’s outdoors your regular login patterns.

The quantity of private data you select to share is as much as you — and everybody has to search out that restrict of what’s an excessive amount of — however on the very least, by no means give out personally identifiable data like your deal with, DOB, monetary data, and so on.

TNW: As the primary girl to serve within the position of CIO on the White House, underneath President George W. Bush, how did you’re feeling about turning into an immediate position mannequin for ladies and younger ladies curious about tech careers?

Payton: It’s an honor to consider the chance to provide again and to assist alongside anybody that wishes to pursue this profession path, particularly younger ladies. Candidly, we want everybody to struggle the nice struggle. My coronary heart breaks after I see laptop and engineering courses with only a few ladies in them.

We didn’t attain out to the ladies early sufficient, and after I discuss to younger ladies in highschool and faculty about contemplating cybersecurity as a profession, a lot of then inform me that since they’ve had no prior publicity they’re fearful about failing, and that it is “too late now to experiment.” To which I inform them that it is all the time a good time to experiment and study new issues!

theresa payton ceo fortalice solutions

Prior to taking over the position on the White House, I had been very lively in ladies in know-how teams and was passionately recruiting younger ladies to think about know-how careers. At the time I used to be supplied the position and accepted, I candidly did not have a direct aha second about being a task mannequin for ladies due to that particular job. I used to be most targeted on ensuring the mission was a hit. I see it now and it is an honor to have the ability to be a task mannequin and I attempt to reside as much as that expectation.

The cybersecurity trade can do extra to assist ladies perceive the essential position that cybersecurity professionals play that make a distinction in our on a regular basis lives. Unfortunately, hackers, each moral and unethical, are sometimes depicted as males carrying hoodies over their faces, making it tough for ladies to image themselves in that position as a practical profession selection, as a result of they do not suppose they’ve something in frequent with hackers.

Studies present that ladies wish to work in professions that assist individuals — the place they’re making a distinction. When you cease a hacker from stealing somebody’s identification, you’ve got made a distinction in somebody’s life or enterprise. At the tip of the day, the victims of hackers are individuals, and girls could make an amazing distinction on this subject. This is one thing the trade as a complete must do a greater job of exhibiting ladies.

TNW: You’re now the CEO of an organization within the non-public sector. Can you inform us somewhat about what Fortalice Solutions does, its mission, and your priorities in guiding it?

Payton: Fortalice Solutions is a crew of cybercrime fighters. We hunt dangerous individuals from behind a keyboard to guard what issues most to nations, enterprise and folks. We mix the sharpest minds in cybersecurity with lively intelligence operations to safe all the things from authorities and company information and mental property, to people’ privateness and safety.

At Fortalice, our strengths lie in finding out the adversary and outmaneuvering them with our human-first, technology-second approaches.

TNW: How have attitudes towards ladies in highly effective positions modified — for higher or worse — lately?

Payton: Although fortunately that is starting to vary, I’m usually the one girl within the room — and that was frequent in banking in addition to know-how. I needed to learn to get up for myself and guarantee my voice was heard. I’ve had greater than my fair proportion of instances when my technical acumen has been discounted as a result of I’m feminine.

I’ve realized that grace and tact go a great distance, and I’m very, very proud to say that my firm is almost dead-equal male/feminine. We even began a company known as “Help A Sister Up” — you’ll find us on LinkedIn — that is dedicated to advancing women in technology and serving as a rallying level for them and their male advocates. We publish job openings, fascinating articles, avenues for dialogue. Please be a part of us!

TNW: What’s your recommendation to women and girls getting into technological fields about whether or not to hunt employment within the non-public or the general public sector? What are a number of the execs and cons, notably from the standpoint of gender equality?

Payton: An April 2013 survey of Women in Technology discovered that 45 p.c of respondents famous a “lack of female role models or [the encouragement to pursue a degree in a technology-related field].”

It’s been confirmed that skilled mentorship and growth dramatically improve participation in any given subject, so the shortage of ladies in cybersecurity can be a compounding downside — we do not have sufficient ladies in cyber as a result of there aren’t sufficient ladies position fashions in cyber.

While connecting with different ladies has had its challenges, there are fantastic ladies in cyber immediately. Look at Linda Hudson — at the moment the chairman and CEO of The Cardea Group and former president and CEO of BAE Systems Inc. — shattering the glass ceiling for ladies behind her. Also, up-and-comer Keren Elazari, a world speaker on cybersecurity and moral hacker out of Israel.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with fantastic, inspiring ladies in cyber, however I acknowledge that my publicity is perhaps greater than ladies beginning their profession. This brings me to my subsequent level: I like to recommend all cyber practitioners, and particularly ladies, make the most of all of the superb free instruments on the market from RSA, TED talks, and even YouTube.

You can watch speeches from veteran cybersecurity professionals about their careers, hear their recommendation on easy methods to succeed, and study new expertise to maintain you aggressive within the office. Consider free on-line programs in cybersecurity or widespread programming languages like Python. Ask your colleagues to indicate you their favourite geek gadget or moral hack.

There are some glorious safety frameworks and steering obtainable totally free on-line, such because the NIST framework, CIS Critical Security Controls, SSAE 16, and discussions on GDPR. Leverage social media to listen to what’s on the minds of safety specialists. You have to be a relentless pupil of your occupation on this subject.

Mick Brady is managing editor of ECT News Network.

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