Potential Cyber Attack Target: The 2020 Census

Given Russia’s and China’s seeming insatiable desire to know everything possible about us, it is reasonable that they would try and target the 2020 Census.

Congress has been asking questions about the security of the Census process for the last several years and not getting any answers that they like.  We are getting pretty close to 2020 and still don’t have those comforting answers.

Kevin Smith, Chief Information Officer of the Census Bureau last week said that they are working with Homeland Security and using tools like encryption to protect the data.

He assured the folks at the meeting that security is the Census’s highest priority.

I would hope that accuracy is important too, but maybe not.

Critics of the Census Bureau’s work at the House Oversight Committee and former national security officials are less than persuaded.  In fact they are not convinced that the Census Bureau has implemented even basic cyber security practices.

Given the government’s track record when it comes to cyber security, that could be hard to argue with.

Just think about how well Russia could target citizens in the next election after the Census if they have all of the Census data.

Smith said that he didn’t want to say what they were doing because that would help the adversaries.  True enough.  But he also didn’t say that they had hired hackers from, say, another government agency like the NSA to try and hack in.  Or red team hackers from industry either.

Basically it is give us all of your data and trust us.

For people who are less than confident of the government’s ability to keep anything secret – think F-35, Sea Dragon, Office of Personnel Management and a host of other leaks – and it is hard to argue with them.

Oh, yeah, while Smith is trying to convince us that all is good, they actually haven’t finished writing the software yet, so it is kind of hard to test something that isn’t written yet.  Hopefully they will get it finished before they have to use it.  When was the last time you saw a government project finished on time?  Actually, can’t think of one.

But not to worry;  I am sure the White House has a plan.

Congress is less convinced.

And you should be less convinced as well.

Information for this post came from Cybersecurity 202.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.