A top Department of Homeland Security official has renewed calls to change his agency’s name, arguing it would help boost election security.
Christopher Krebs, head of the national protection and programs directorate, said the name of his department “sounds like a Soviet era intelligence agency.”
“That’s one of the reasons we have difficulty engaging in the election community,” Krebs said, while speaking at a Washington Post 202 live event July 20.
After listing off the acronym for his current agency, he joked that he “would give five bucks to anyone in the audience who knows what it means.”
Krebs said that working with state governments is a key element of the department’s plan — whatever its name — to secure the 2018 midterm elections.
Legislation that would rename and reorganize his department as the “cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency” has passed in the House, but stalled in the Senate.
Krebs said the rebranding would better explain “who I am and what I do.”
“It’s going to help me recruit, it’s going to help me cement my position across the federal family, but also its going to make things easier for me when I go out in the field,”
In the past six months, Krebs said he has been on a listening tour with election officials and secretaries of state.
Election systems face three common vulnerabilities, Krebs said. First, many are running outdated operating systems. Second, officials struggle with patches and vulnerability management. Finally, he said states have been slow to fix configuration errors.
“The voter registration database that was accessed by the Russians in 2016 [had] some misconfiguration errors,” Krebs said.
Justin Lynch is the Associate Editor at Fifth Domain. He has written for the New Yorker, the Associated Press, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and others. Follow him on Twitter @just1nlynch.