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Cyber security experts closely watch web traffic on election day

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Cyber security officials in Utah have to keep a close eye on how much web traffic is coming into state websites.  They’re trying to make sure no outside forces interfere with how election results are processed.

The elections are handled by each individual county, but, there are online sites where the counties can share their results with state officials, and there are pages where voters can look up information.  Those are the sites the State Department of Technology Services needs to protect.  Chief Information Security Officer Phil Bates says there are times when people have launched something called a “denial of service” attack.  He says, “What they’ll do is flood it with a bunch of requests, basically making it so it’s unavailable for other people to get at.”

Although this has never happened during an election, Bates says there have been times when they’ve seen these kinds of attacks during the legislative session.  “During the legislature, if there’s a hot topic and these groups get involved in it, that’s when we’ll typically see a denial,” Bates says.

While they’re looking at traffic coming into the state’s servers, Bates says they’re also in communication with their counterparts in other states.  He says, “If we’re seeing something in our state, we notified a federal agency that notifies other states.  It may start here and we’re giving them a heads up.  It may start somewhere else and they give us a heads up.”