Security and Accuracy Worry with Technology-Based Census Reporting

The United States Census Bureau is planning to take to the internet for their reporting for the first time in 10 years. This is bringing up the skepticism of some due to the debacle of the Iowa Caucus and the delay in results.

The plan is to have people complete the Census questionnaire online. Later on, those who did not complete this process will have census workers come to their door. Those workers will input the data into a smartphone with a new mobile app to send the answers in.

There is a threat and worry of cybersecurity when it comes to personal information going through internet channels. The Census Bureau says that the software is ready, and they have been working with the Department of Homeland Security. They have brought in a third-party security expert to help with warding off cyber-attacks.

All answers will be sent with blocked encryption and they are developing a backup plan in case the first one doesn’t go through properly. The Bureau is blocking foreign IP addresses and eliminating bots from falsifying information which would make the information gathered inaccurate.

At the end of last year, the bureau still had 191 corrective actions still to complete that were brought forward by the Office of Inspector General. One of these was a weakness in the ability of the bureau to recover data from the cloud in the event of a large cyber-attack.

The Census Bureau is allowing for those citizens who do not want to complete a digital census to do their questionnaire by telephone or by mailing in the paper forms. The count of the census is important because it determines the number of states that each seat gets in congress and the distribution of the $1.5 trillion federal spending available.

Lawmakers were assured that the bureau has taken care of the worries raised by the inspector general and they are prepared to distribute hard paper copies to people if a catastrophic event occurs regarding the digital version.