Colorado has a new Rapid Response Election Security Cyber Unit (RESCU). The highly-trained team of election security experts will help protect elections from cyber attacks, foreign interference, and disinformation campaigns.
Announcing the creation of the unit July 20, Secretary of State Jena Griswold said, “Colorado leads the nation in election security, and we must continue to innovate to stay ahead of threats.
“States must be equipped to withstand attacks from foreign countries on our election infrastructure and increased cyber hostility,” she said.
“That is why I am proud to announce the formation of RESCU, led by Nathan Blumenthal, a top national expert in election threat prevention and counterterrorism. RESCU will focus on bridging the gap between cyber experts and county election administrators and on strategies to combat cyber attacks and disinformation.
“The creation of RESCU is reflective of Colorado’s leadership in cybersecurity, and will help us continue to be safest state in the nation to cast a ballot.”
RESCU will also work hand-in-hand with counties to increase cyber preparedness and provide another important resource for county clerks.
The unit is a continuation of Colorado’s dedication and leadership in election security and preparedness, according to the news release from Griswold’s office.
RESCU will be a five-person team charged with securing Colorado’s elections by helping counties with their cybersecurity in the field and combating cybersecurity incursions and disinformation.
“This unprecedented support to counties will provide Colorado further protection assistance for those on the front lines of the state’s elections,” according to the release. “RESCU is largely made possible through federal funding.”
Before joining Colorado’s Department of State, Blumenthal served as acting deputy assistant secretary of counter terrorism and threat prevention for the Department of Homeland Security, where he led the development and implementation of strategies to counter a range of threats. Before that, he was director for DHS’ Countering Foreign Influence Task Force, and he served two tours as a Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council.
“RESCU is the latest addition to an election security team that is among the nation’s best,” the news release said. “The Secretary of State’s Office has an IT department of 40 experts dedicated to elections, as well as a four-person cybersecurity IT team, led by the Department’s Chief Information Security Officer Craig Buesing, which will work in lock-step with RESCU.”
Colorado has a strong reputation for protecting elections and Griswold has been committed to cybersecurity, leading the effort to get DHS to reverse its long-standing policy of not alerting state chief election officers of cyber attacks on state, county and local infrastructure. She has also worked with the intelligence community to more quickly declassify threat information so states can manage ongoing threats.
Colorado will also continue to work closely with the experts at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as well as the FBI to further ensure the state’s elections are protected.