TOMS RIVER – With the state Gubernatorial Election just days away, Ocean County is making certain its computer network is secure from cyber compromise for the upcoming election.
“The Ocean County Clerk and the Ocean County Board of Elections in conjunction with the Ocean County Information Technology Department takes all steps necessary to make certain the computer network used for the election is secure,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Clerk and Board of Elections. “We take these steps to assure the integrity of the election. It’s imperative voters know we have done all we can to make sure their vote is secure.”
Just as it did during the 2016 Presidential Election, Ocean County’s computer network continues to undergo a “cyber hygiene assessment” by the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center for Homeland Security.
“As of Nov. 2, no critical vulnerabilities were indicated in the assessment of the computer network that is used in the upcoming election,” said Edward Bavais, Director of Information Technology for Ocean County.
Bavais noted the assessment tested areas of the network for accessibility and penetration.
“They review our software, network and other areas,” he said. “The testing showed we are in great shape.”
To make the system as strong as possible, scans are done daily.
Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Information Technology Department, said that in addition to the assessment, the Department of Information Technology, takes a layered approach in making certain the computer system is secure from compromise.
“The department has continuous network malware updates and there is live scanning in place,” Haines said.
In addition, email filtering for malware is in place and anti-virus vulnerability testing is done daily. There also is active auditing and alerting of network changes.
“This extensive review is important in determining whether any problems exist,” said County Clerk Scott Colabella. “We are pleased that the results are showing our network is secure and we can assure our voters their vote also is secure.”
The Information Technology Department in 2016 upgraded the network that connects municipalities and the county by installing new firewalls and switches for higher performance and greater security.
Bavais said his department performs regular internal analysis of the network.
“It’s so important that we continually upgrade, monitor and assess the computer network,” Bavais said. “Extensive safety measures and safeguards are in place for this election. And, monitoring will continue through the Election Day process.”
Haines noted that it’s crucial voters feel their vote is secure.
“Voters can rest assure in Ocean County that every measure possible has been taken so that your vote is protected,” she said.