Cybersecurity for New Mexico

Researching and writing security policies and procedures to assist the State of New Mexico with election systems security

Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico Secretary of State

Improving election security is an urgent need in every state. RESPEC understands the vulnerability of largely digitized election systems that must be protected from interference, disruption, and manipulation.

In serving the proactive New Mexico Secretary of State (SoS), an office that protects voter and business information, RESPEC’s primary project goal was to help the SoS harden their cybersecurity. Our project led to improving security in the state’s election infrastructure while ensuring the accuracy, accessibility, and confidentiality of voter information used in election systems.

In 2019, RESPEC conducted a discovery assessment on the SoS’ cyber policies and procedures to determine areas needing additional security hardening.  The assessment was conducted against 17 major areas of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-53, which is a catalog of security and privacy controls for US federal information systems and the standard to which critical systems must be compliant.  RESPEC’s assessment secured a contract beginning in 2019 and continuing through June 2020 to enhance the SoS’ existing cybersecurity policies and procedures.

The project consists of two major phases. Phase 1 focused on the umbrella cybersecurity policies and procedures for the main SoS offices. Phase 2 developed a System Security Plan for the State Elections Registration & Voting Integrity System (SERVIS), which is the main election system for New Mexico.

In 2020, RESPEC’s team will use the Enterprise Security Plan to create a new System Security Plan that is specific to the environment, components, and access points of the SERVIS system. When the project is completed, before the 2020 elections, New Mexico’s election system will be among the most secure in the nation.

RESPEC’s team is proud to contribute to projects that protect confidential data and keep election systems safe and secure for free and fair elections.