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DHS cybersecurity expert says election threats are "much lower" than 2016

Christopher Krebs, the top cybersecurity expert at the Department of Homeland Security, says that there is a "much lower" threat of election interference this November than in 2016.

"From a cybersecurity threat landscape, [it's a] significantly different threat landscape than 2016. Much, much lower, particularly when you talk about nation-state adversaries," Krebs said in an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS, spoke with Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast.

Listen to this episode on ART19

"We took some lumps during and after 2016, but we really recommitted to this bipartisan, almost apolitical partnership of election security and making sure that 2020 is as secure as possible," Krebs said, referring to Russian interference in the 2016 election.


Highlights from this week's episode:

  • Christopher Krebs on the 2020 elections compared to 2016: "From a cybersecurity threat landscape, [it's a] significantly different threat landscape than 2016. Much, much lower, particularly when you talk about nation-state adversaries."
  • Defending election security: "The full might of the United States government's national security apparatus is defending these elections."
  • Benefits of mail-in voting: "Any time you introduce paper into the process, election or otherwise, what you do is you provide the opportunity to audit. And auditing is critically important because if you detect any anomalies, you can roll the tape back, right? You've got the receipts, you've can check what the true outcome is."
  • Working with state secretaries of state: "Cybersecurity is apolitical. So whether it's a Democratic secretary of state from California or a Republican secretary of state from Iowa, we work with everybody."

Krebs said that "all 50 states" are working together to insure the security of the election and called the differences between 2020 and 2016 like "night and day."

"The full might of the United States government's national security apparatus is defending these elections," Krebs said.

Krebs also praised mail-in voting, saying that it created a paper trail which allowed for election officials to ensure accuracy in counting ballots.

"Any time you introduce paper into the process, election or otherwise, what you do is you provide the opportunity to audit. And auditing is critically important because if you detect any anomalies, you can roll the tape back, right? You've got the receipts, you've can check what the true outcome is," Krebs said. President Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting will result in greater voter fraud.

Krebs also talked about working with both Republican and Democratic state secretaries of state.

"Cybersecurity is apolitical. So whether it's a Democratic secretary of state from California or a Republican secretary of state from Iowa, we work with everybody," Krebs said.

Krebs also praised the secretaries of state for making information about elections available to the public.

"They have done an incredible job of pushing guidance, awareness, information out there," Krebs said. "Go to your trusted sources of information on the state level on exactly how the election will happen in your jurisdiction."

In this week's episode of "The Takeout," Garrett also spoke to the secretaries of state for Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico.


For more of Major's conversation with Krebs and the secretaries of state, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19,
 iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
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