The Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) faced scrutiny after Illinois became one of 39 states hacked by the Russians in the 2016 election. ISBE said only voter rolls were hacked, and no ballots were tampered with.
The board’s IT Director Matt Emmons said Tuesday that’s why cybersecurity specialists are imperative.
“There’s always a threat,” Emmons said. “Threat is an outside factor, an outside force. So we’re operating under the assumption that there will be a threat 100 percent of the time.”
Emmons spoke Tuesday in Normal to the Central Illinois chapter of BDPA, an organization for African-Americans and other minorities in the information technology (IT) and STEM fields. He was joined by McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael and the county's chief information officer, Craig Nelson.
Emmons said vulnerability is the only factor that can be controlled when preventing a cyberattack.
“Basically, you analyze your risks, reduce your vulnerabilities, knowing that there is always going to be a threat,” Emmons said.
Currently there are 350,000 open cybersecurity jobs in the U.S., according to Cybersecurity Ventures. That number is expected to jump to 3.5 million by 2021.
“We need to be able to fill these jobs rapidly with really good people,” Emmons said. “We don’t have the time we would like in a mature program to be able to ramp them up and teach them on the job, so that’s sort of one of the challenges we’re running into.”
ISBE is currently hiring 3 positions to its cybersecurity team.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the source of cybersecurity hiring trend data.
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