John Merrill

The Office of the Secretary of State hosted educators from around Alabama Thursday afternoon for a cybersecurity seminar at the University of Alabama.

Recently, there have been several cybersecurity attacks across the country, even right here in Tuscaloosa with the recent DCH Health System ransomware attack. At the event, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill discussed how he plans to address cyber-attacks moving forward.

The program featured representatives from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Albert Stewart and Theresa Domzal, in addition to the Director of UA’s Cyber Initiative Jeff Carver.

“We’re very excited to be on the campus of the capstone of higher education in the state of Alabama,” Merrill said. “The University of Alabama is hosting this cybersecurity seminar today that focuses on ways that K-12, community education, post-secondary and higher education can be better prepared for the cybersecurity attacks that we face and the cybersecurity concerns that currently exist.”

The event organizers discussed ways to improve economic security and increase the nation’s security against any international actors looking to influence U.S. communities, especially during election season in Alabama.

“We’ve replaced all election computers in all 67 counties that are related to the elections process,” Merrill said. “No. 2, we have called for, created, developed, and administered a dual-authentication program so anytime a voter record is changed or added to the roles, we are able to know who did it, when they did it, and only those people are authorized to be able to do so. No. 3, we’ve introduced electronic poll books, not only in Tuscaloosa County but throughout the state of Alabama. And more than 32 of our 67 counties that enable a faster, swifter check-in with a greater level of integrity and credibility at the polls.”

Merrill said the state has to be diligent in working with public and private partners as well as partnering with other states to address these issues as well.

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