Senate passes $1.4 trillion spending bill, includes $25 million for election security

The Senate today passed the sweeping $1.4 trillion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which includes a number of security measures and appropriates $425 million in funding for election security, though it stopped short of requiring post-election audits for states not using paper ballots and safeguards against foreign interference in U.S. elections.

The NDAA “is a significant investment in America’s vital interests and national security,” according to a statement from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., who also praised the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) included in the bill, which, he said, “deters foreign threats, secures our elections, builds a strong intelligence workforce, and ensures proper Congressional oversight.”

The IAA aims to deter Russian and other foreign by boosting the U.S.’s ability to detect active measures campaigns and other malign activities. It requires strategic assessments of cyber threats and influence campaigns from Russia as well as boosts information sharing among officials at the federal, state and local government levels to protect elections.

“I am also pleased that it includes a number of other provisions aimed at deterring foreign influence in our elections, tackling the technological threats from China as the U.S. and other nations move to 5G communications, modernizing our outdated security clearance process, and enabling the IC to exchange talent with the private sector,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Electoral systems and processes should be protected using the most advanced cybersecurity models used today in private or public sectors,” said Jack Kudale, founder at CEO of Cowbell Cyber. “In addition to post election audit, continuous risk assessments should be mandatory and performed to validate the integrity of all cyber components supporting the election process."

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