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After Election Interference, RSA Conference Speakers Ask What Comes Next


17 Feb 2017

As discussion about possible American collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election heated up in Washington, the events were also a hot topic at the 2017 RSA Conference in San Francisco.  RSA Conference speakers tackled specific recent hacking events, and further discussed how they exacerbate the weaknesses of an already fragmented, lightly regulated voting system with highly irregular security practices.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, stated during a keynote session that he was first briefed on election-related attacks in the spring, and has "no doubt" Russians undermined the election.  "This is a red line we should not allow anyone to cross," said Rep. McCaul.  "We must continue to call out Moscow for election interference. …  And if we don’t, I am certain they will do it again," he said.

These were thoughts echoed by John P. Carlin, partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, in a session called "Electoral Dysfunction".  Until October of 2016, Carlin was the US Department of Justice's assistant attorney general for national security.  "I'm very concerned about repeated conduct," said Carlin, in reference to nation-state attackers.

During Carlin's tenure, the DOJ developed a cybercrime "deterrence playbook" to discourage nation-state attacks on the US by ensuring there would be consequences for them.  For deterrence to work, Carlin explained, the government would not only have to make it clear that it would take action in respond to specific acts, but make it clear that "we are going to take actions until the behavior stops."

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