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Vladimir Putin is trying to hack the election. What should US do?


Amy Zegart is Co-Director and Senior Fellow at Stanford University s Center for All-embracing Aegis and Cooperation and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The opinions bidding in this annotation are hers. Abutting month, America will accept a new president. Best acceptable there will be no cyber hanging-chad moment, no massive aperture that calls into catechism acclamation after-effects or acceptance in the autonomous process. But it would be a aberration to breathe a aggregate blow of abatement on November 9th and achieve the crisis is past. The crisis is aloof beginning. The 2016 acclamation is a admonishing of darker hacks to come.Director of National Intelligence James Clapper afresh appear what abounding cyber experts had continued suspected: High-level Russian admiral accustomed hacks of the Autonomous National Committee and added campaign-related sites. This is the aboriginal time a adopted ability has amid itself anon into an American presidential election. Russian Admiral Vladimir Putin wasn t aloof acid our calendar systems. He was acid our political acknowledgment to see how far he could go to sow disbelief in the best important cornerstone of any democracy: chargeless and fair elections. Our acknowledgment has not helped.FBI Director James Comey has approved to assure Americans that our decentralized voting arrangement is aloof too clunky for one massive aperture to affect the outcome. But sometimes baby changes can accept big effects. Lyndon Johnson s 1948 Senate achievement hinged on a distinct coarse belt area he was accepted with asleep voters. The 2000 presidential acclamation was absitively by aloof 537 votes in Florida. In a bound race, cyber bad actors don t charge to agitate everything. They aloof charge to hit a few counties in Pennsylvania or Florida, two big battlefield states that use cyberbanking voting but in some precincts do not use absolute cardboard analysis trails to affirm results.Pennsylvania and Florida are not alone. Thirteen added states abridgement cardboard analysis trails in either all or some voting locations. Alike back a chase isn t tight, abominable actors do not absolutely accept to bandy an acclamation to succeed: Simply casting agnosticism on the angary of the activity in these states could be enough.Others apostle calling acclamation hacking acts of war to avert the Russians. This feels acceptable and sounds tough. But aegis 101 teaches that if you alarm article an act of war, you d bigger be accommodating to go to war if it happens.Declaring an activity unacceptable and again accepting it alone weakens US believability everywhere, on every issue. There s a acumen the Pentagon has been accurate to abstain this language: It s cryptic how cyber accretion ability assignment or area it could lead. Abounding cyber weapons accept a use it and lose it quality. Once they are in the wild, they can be about-face engineered and possibly acclimated adjoin us.Crossing from the cyber to accurate worlds is alike added uncertain. What happens if we accede to acclamation hacks of war with aggressive strikes? What will the antagonist do next? Going up the accretion ladder is a black and alarming business with sobering possibilities: Would we absolutely barrage nuclear strikes over vote counts in Beaver County, Pennsylvania?Instead of aegis by punishment, the US should apparatus a activity of aegis by denial. The ambition is to abjure adversaries the outcomes they seek — in this case, by apprehension cyber acclamation hacks bush to our autonomous process. The activity starts by architecture bigger defenses, including legislating minimum cyber aegis standards for party, PAC, and campaign-related websites for presidential elections. That would accommodate cardboard analysis trails in every state, starting with ample battlegrounds, so that our acclamation activity can be airy alike if attacked.Building animation additionally requires alteration minds, not aloof systems. Accessible apprenticeship is essential. Approaching cyber attacks could adapt the candor of abstracts so the accuracy will be adamantine to know. Today, back a aperture occurs, we accept the advice appear charge be true. In the future, we charge to accept that annihilation leaked could be false, advised to deceive and manipulate. Because increasingly, it will.Finally, the US government needs to alpha advertence election-related breaches as bound as accessible unless there is a acute intelligence acumen not to. For months, the Russian government s acclamation hacking was the worst-kept abstruse in Washington; anybody knew it, but the White House banned to accede it. This sends all the amiss signals, emboldening bad actors to do added tomorrow than they did today.Fast allegation would advice authorize all-embracing norms that acclamation hacks are alfresco the bound of affable society; move acclamation intrusions from the branch of abstruse intelligence operations that are rarely discussed to adept calendar items that can be about and consistently discussed; and abatement accessible all-overs by authoritative a ambiguous blackmail added concrete.It is one affair to say, Someone is burglarizing your adjacency but we re not abiding who, and absolutely addition to say, The bad guy burglary in your adjacency is Vladimir Putin. Here s his picture. Here s what you can do to assure yourself. The ultimate aim of acclamation hacking is to change how we anticipate about ourselves and our government. If we do not booty concerted activity now, the 2016 acclamation will be remembered as the admonishing cipher heeded.