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Two things you don't want to mix

The 2020 presidential election has already been upended by a disastrous pandemic that’s forced changes in the methods by which people will vote this year. And election administrators, especially at the local level, must still contented with threats like ransomware attacks that could potentially disrupt voting infrastructure and create chaos on or after Nov. 3, county officials were warned last week. “Picture [on Nov. 3] that you’re getting to 8 p.m., close of polls, and you see a message that says: ‘Your system is locked up and you have no results for this election unless you pay us a ransom'," Ryan Macias, an election security consultant to the Department of Homeland Security, said during a webinar hosted by the National Association of Counties. Benjamin Freed reports.

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A 'really good case study'

For Alaska Chief Information Officer Bill Smith, the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been a one-off event, but a “really good case study” for everything that state-government IT professionals should be doing differently. Like other state CIOs, Smith, who was only a few months into his job managing a statewide consolidation process when COVID-19 arrived, had to quickly solve unexpected challenges, like a lack of VPN bandwidth for the state's workforce. “It was a stress test,” he said. "Now we’re looking hard at our network and normalizing the current environment." Colin Wood reports.

Kicking the tires before Nov. 3

The Colorado secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it is partnering with the security firm Synack to conduct penetration tests of its election systems ahead of the presidential vote. In an interview with StateScoop, Trevor Timmons, the chief information officer for Secretary of State Jena Griswold, said Synack will poke and prod the agency’s election infrastructure, including the statewide voter registration database and Griswold’s office’s main website. “We need to know [vulnerabilities],” Timmons said. “We’ve got enough time that if they found anything we’d be able to respond to them.” Ben has more.

Beast, unburdened

San Francisco’s tax office last week replaced its 50-year-old “beast” of a mainframe system with a cloud-based software, successfully navigating the “huge challenge” of modernizing in a global pandemic, city treasurer Jose Cisneros said. Although the mainframe was "highly reliable," Cisneros said, it was also ancient. Now, San Francisco is using a platform called TaxSys, which will allow the city's accountants to create data-visualization dashboards and customizable reports. Ryan Johnston has the details.

San Jose hires new innovation chief

Six months after the resignation of Chief Innovation Officer Shireen Santosham, the City of San Jose, California, announced the hiring of Jordan Sun, a former Army officer, to the vacant position. In an interview with StateScoop, Sun said his first priority is to continue Santosham’s digital inclusion efforts, including a plan to connect 50,000 low-income homes to high-speed internet service. Ryan has more.

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