Dispel Launches Election Security Platform

Dispel, a U.S.-based company that specializes in secure communication and collaboration systems, on Thursday announced the launch of a new product designed to help protect elections against malicious cyber actors.

According to Dispel, the new solution, which consists of its Election Cyber Defense System (ECDS) and a hardware device named ECDS Wicket, is capable of protecting the integrity of voter, ballot and campaign information. The company says its product can be easily installed even by a novice with only five minutes of training.

The election security platform is designed to automatically tunnel sensitive voting data and ensure that databases and networks cannot be located and attacked by malicious actors. The ECDS Wicket, which needs to be plugged into the reporting center computer, protects communications with two layers of AES-256 encryption with independent 4096-bit RSA keys for the initial exchange.

The device links the reporting center computer to a siloed dataroom where voting data is uploaded. Each dataroom is located in a network protected by Dispel’s Moving Target Defense technology. When the ECDS system is active, the reporting center computer can no longer transmit data to the Internet and can only communicate with election-related sites.

The platform has different systems that can help secure specific voting and campaign-related operations, including voter rolls, vote tabulation, and campaign communications.

For example, when voter rolls are changed, state officials connect with reporting officials through a secure video conferencing page to confirm the identity of the reporting official before granting them access to change the roll. Every change made to the roll is logged and stored in a secure location.

The tabulation system is designed to ensure that voting data is safely transmitted and stored. As for protecting campaign communications, Dispel provides what it calls the Campaign Comms Enclave, which includes secure video conferencing, telephony, messaging, file sharing, VPN, research stations, and logging capabilities for a flat fee of $2,500 per month, $7,500 per quarter, or $25,000 annually.

The voter roll and vote tabulation systems are priced based on the number of Wicket devices, voter rolls, access terminals, and reporting centers needed.

U.S. intelligence officials are convinced that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and they have warned that it will likely attempt to meddle in this year’s midterm elections as well. Threat groups from Russia and other countries could try to interfere and experts warned recently that voting machines and other systems used in the election are vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Dispel told SecurityWeek that it has yet to make any deals with the U.S. government regarding the use of its product at the upcoming elections.

Democrats on Wednesday asked Congress for more than $1 billion in grants for boosting election security, and a product such as the one offered by Dispel could be taken into consideration for protecting votes.

Dispel is also offering its product to governments outside the U.S., but it has yet to actively promote it.

Related: Dispel Launches Security-focused Video Conferencing Platform

Related: Electronic Voting – The Greatest Threat to Democracy

Related: Cyber Interference – the Changing the Face of Elections

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Eduard Kovacs is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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