Knox Co. leaders share security measures in protecting voter info

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – With city elections just one month out, election security is top of mind.

How can we make sure our vote counts and our information is secure? Secretary of State Tre Hargett tweeted on Friday what the state is doing to ensure the integrity of upcoming elections.

  • Weekly vulnerability scans from the Department of Homeland Security
  • Vulnerability scans from independent contractors
  • Mandatory two-factor authentication for access to the state voter registration data
  • Upgraded cybersecurity and firewall protections
  • Upgraded election night reporting security
  • Cybersecurity training for Secretary of State staff and election officials in all 95 counties
  • Coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and FBI to monitor election day activities

Zack Webb, Knox County Senior Director of Information Technology, says we live in a world where there are hackers trying hard to get sensitive data, but when it comes to protecting our information, he says things have drastically changed for the better.

We visited Knox County’s data hub in the basement of the City/County building where some of our voter information is stored.

“So, the data is maintained primarily in the Data Center here in Knox County but we do have multiple backup copies that we distribute throughout multiple Data Centers across various locations,” said Webb.

He says the state and Federal Government give guidelines on protecting our private information, “We have multiple layers of firewall protection in our environment, we do lots of backups for all this information, there are a number of integrity checks that take place on the data itself and we’re not only monitored in house, but we also have third party monitoring that happens as well.”

To maintain security, Webb could only speak in generalities but he says there’s a reason why protecting voter information is so important, “The vote itself could not be changed. However, the information could be used, the main reason for that would be to put the perception of tampering and create doubt in the election process itself.”

Webb says the IT Department is always upgrading their cybersecurity infrastructure and focusing on cybersecurity training.

“There are a lot of things changing and ever evolving so we have dedicated resources on staff, 24-hours a day, third party monitoring that watch these things, watching for threats. We are by no means fool-proof, but we are following practices and making sure we do everything we can to stay up to date,” added Webb.

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