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Counties' election sites still missing two key security features

A vast majority of websites operated by county election administrators around the United States lack key security features that would help users verify that the sites they're viewing truly belong to their local officials, according to research published Thursday by McAfee. The company found that barely 20% of county election boards have moved their websites to the federally administered .gov top-level domain, while 45% don't employ the encrypted HTTPS protocol that preloads sites in browsers to protect users from being redirected by malicious actors. In total, just 16.4% of nearly 3,100 county elections websites take both steps, McAfee found, and that figure is much lower for several battleground states, including Minnesota, Nevada and Pennsylvania. "There are a lot of things that are complex in cybersecurity, this isn’t one of them," McAfee CTO Steve Grobman told StateScoop. Benjamin Freed has the story.

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Virginia taps CARES Act for broadband relief

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday the state will allocate $30 million of its pandemic relief funding to “fast track” new broadband projects. The program, which is set to launch in Virginia on Friday, is the latest attempt by a state government to bridge a digital divide made more apparent this year as record numbers of Americans attempted to work and study from their homes. But some broadband advocates, like Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said restrictions on how relief funding is spent is pushing states toward undesirable approaches to their broadband initiatives, either by underspending or ignoring certain requirements and hoping for the best. Colin Wood has more.

Pandemic pushed election officials toward major IT upgrades

As the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on, it's also allowed some states to make major and potentially long-lasting improvements to their election infrastructure, speakers said during a CISA event yesterday. North Carolina was among those states. Following the release of election administration funds as part of the federal relief act that passed in March, said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the state used its share to implement upgrades that included high-capacity optical scanners to read and tally the higher volume of absentee ballots and launching a new online portal where registered voters can request absentee ballots. Ben has more.

How NYC Cyber Command coped

While the pandemic halted in-person operations for government agencies across nearly every large American city this year, the shift to remote work represented a vindication of sorts for New York City Cyber Command. In a webinar yesterday, its leaders described the organization as one of the most prepared in the country for manmade and natural disasters. NYC3 leaders shared their strategy for ensuring that the coronavirus pandemic did not interrupt the city’s cybersecurity initiatives, attributing much of the continuity to a new cloud-based data storage system that enabled the agency to ingest security data while keeping tight control over how it was shared. Ryan Johnston reports.

State CIOs talk cloud efforts on 'Priorities'

On the latest episode of StateScoop's Priorities podcast, Arkansas Chief Technology Officer Yessica Jones and Nevada Chief Information Officer Alan Cunningham join to discuss the status of their states' cloud services upgrades. In both states, the pandemic has accelerated upgrade efforts. “ Some people don’t want to change,” Cunningham said, “but Covid has really helped push that forward at a much faster rate because people were not allowed in the offices for the longest time so our implementation of Office 365, especially of Teams, helped our staff still communicate and keep government running, because it never stops.” Have a listen.

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