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Thu Feb 13, 2020, 06:52 PM

The Cybersecurity 202: The 2020 Census could be the next big hacking and disinformation target

Lawmakers are growing increasingly alarmed about hacking dangers targeting the 2020 Census after a watchdog detailed dozens of high-risk cybersecurity problems that should have been fixed a long time ago. The hacking danger could be compounded by social media misinformation spread by U.S. adversaries or pranksters falsely claiming that census data is corrupted or the count is rigged, according to the Government Accountability Office report released during a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday.

ďThis new report seems to be sending flashing red lights warning that the Census Bureau simply is not ready for whatís about to happen,Ē the chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said.

Concerns are extra high because the decennial count, which kicks off in earnest next month, will be the first one conducted primarily online with respondents encouraged to submit forms over the Internet. And when responses donít arrive online or by mail, census-takers will go out to collect them using secure smartphone apps.

Thatís a major overhaul for the constitutionally mandated count that determines everything from reapportioning congressional districts for the next decade to distributing federal grant money at a time when hacking dangers are rising sharply. And time is tight to ensure the changes will be made as securely as possible, warned Nick Marinos, the GAOís information technology and cybersecurity lead.


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