Charleston, W. Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner issued a special advisory to local election officials on Tuesday in response to heightened cyber threats due to recent events related to Iran and the increased risk of geopolitical tensions. The office shared the advisory with county clerks and their election staff.
At the time of publication, the office had received no information about actionable or credible threats to elections systems. However, the state’s preemptive steps leading into the 2020 election cycle have put West Virginia in a strong position to protect these systems.
Less than 24 hours after Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, died by a U.S. drone strike, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) held a briefing for election officials across the country to warn of potential retaliatory cyberattacks and advise taking precautions against such threats. This preemptive action by DHS is the culmination of years of coordination, training, and give-and-take between the federal government and state officials -- with West Virginia playing a key role in the process.
The ideas and leadership put forth by West Virginia over the past three years have positioned the state on the leading edge of election security in the U.S.
“The world we live in today is one where asymmetric warfare is the norm, and cyberattacks have become the weapon of choice for rogue regimes like Iran," Warner said. “West Virginia's mantra to 'protect, detect, and correct' has become the standard protocol used by the nation's elections community to thwart cyberattacks. Soleimani's death amplifies our state's preparations.”
“The people of West Virginia should take pride in knowing the election techniques, tactics, and procedures that we’ve been able to implement over the last three years are setting the bar high for election protection and election integrity across our nation,” he said.
The Advisory shared with local election officials can be found here.
The Advisory released this week by the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) can be found here.