DHS assisting with election security in Alabama

No issues so far, officials say

By TAL KOPAN, CNN
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(CNN) - The Department of Homeland Security has agents on the ground in Montgomery to assist with election security in the Alabama special election, a senior department official said Tuesday.

No issues have been brought to the DHS's attention thus far, Christopher Krebs, the agency's top infrastructure and cyber official, told reporters.

Asked if there were any threats or efforts by attackers to probe the Alabama election for potential weaknesses attempts, Krebs said: "I'm not aware of any."

"We've been working with them on game-day planning for quite some time now," Krebs said of Alabama's election, saying the playbook has similar to what the department did with recent gubernatorial elections in November.

The agency's efforts on securing elections is threefold, he said. "First is information-sharing, second is technical support and third is incident response."

DHS is working to build on Alabama and the earlier gubernatorial elections and "we're kind of looking at that playbook approach on what the 2018 midterms look like."

One of the sticking points to boosting efforts with states is getting clearances for state election officials, including because they tend to be named in lawsuits which can complicate the clearance process, Krebs said.

Other support offered by the department includes cyber hygiene scans and self-assessments. Krebs could not say specifically how many states have had the hygiene scans, but estimated it's over 30 at least.

Krebs said there was no specific intelligence about current threats to election security.

"We come together as a government team to support state and locals," Krebs said of the federal approach to election security. "We learned our lessons last year and it is a priority going forward, so we will be ready for 2018. My sense is -- and this is just good practice -- is, they will be back."

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