State of security: Utah


Who’s in charge:  Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox,  Director of Elections Justin Lee

Security in action: Utah uses a vote by mail system in all but two counties (Carbon and Emery). The two outliers instead use direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines that at least provide a paper-based audit trail. However, even more counties allow auditable DREs for voters with disabilities and early voters. Absentee ballots are paper-based.

The Beehive State was recently allocated $4.1 million in federal funds, which it will use to overhaul the voter database, update older voting machines, and provide security training and monitoring.

Utah has been participating in a pilot program whereby election officials are briefed on specific threats. Earlier this year, the state also reportedly announced its intentions to conduct an audit of its systems to root out any vulnerabilities prior to the midterms.

The planned improvements come at a key junction for Utah, where former presidential candidate and prominent Russia critic Mitt Romney is running for Senator. Utah NBC affiliate has reported that Utah’s information security team blocked roughly 1 billion intrusion attempts since the 2018 primaries – a 2,000X increase in attempts over the previous year.

Reportedly, Utah also practices such security measures as access control, logging, intrusion detection, vulnerability assessments, cyber awareness training and equipment testing. Audits of ballots are mandatory and involve a random assortment of at least one percent of all voting machines.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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