Mr. Krebs’ team worked with states to scan and patch systems for vulnerabilities, lock voter registration databases and electoral rolls, change default passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and print paper backups for “resilience” in case. build up the attack. He protected, he said, “the crown jewels of the electoral administration”.
When the pandemic turned everything upside down, Mr Krebs’ team focused on securing voting systems via email despite the President’s campaign against them. At this point, Mr Krebs’ agency came into the crosshairs of the White House.
In interviews, Mr Krebs countered Mr Trump by stating that mail-in voting would make voting safer by creating a paper path, which is vital for exams to determine that every legal ballot has been counted correctly.
It also made government registration databases more critical: an attack that froze or sabotaged voter registration data – by switching addresses, marking registered voters as unregistered, or completely deleting voters – risked mass digital disenfranchisement. Mr. Krebs made it his personal responsibility to see that every last registration database was sealed.
When, in September, during his televised debate with Mr Biden, the now elected President, Mr Trump called the mail-in vote a “fraud”, Mr Krebs contradicted the President at every turn without mentioning his name.
“We are very confident that the ballot is more secure than ever,” said Krebs to every reporter who asked about it.
On election day, Mr. Krebs and senior officials held briefings with reporters every few hours to inform them of possible threats. Chad Wolf, the Secretary of State for Homeland Security, a Trump loyalist and head of Mr. Krebs, even showed up at one to praise Mr. Krebs’ work. Despite minor hiccups, Mr. Krebs assured journalists that there was no major foreign interference or evidence of systemic fraud.
“It’s just another Tuesday on the internet,” he said.