Biden will get tougher on Russia and boost election security. Here’s what to expect.


with Tonya Riley

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President-elect Joe Biden is expected to dramatically shift how the government handles cybersecurity threats when he takes office in January. 

Those changes probably will include a top-level focus on election security after the White House virtually ignored the topic for the past four years and a far tougher stance on Russian hacking and disinformation campaigns than President Trump, who was often unwilling to publicly criticize Russia and President Vladimir Putin. 

“There are members of the Trump administration that prioritized cybersecurity, but Trump never has – and that will be different with Biden,” said Chris Painter, who served as the State Department’s top cybersecurity official during the Obama administration and for the first few months of the Trump administration. Trump frequently misstated basic facts about cybersecurity and seldom mentioned the topic publicly.  

Here are five key cybersecurity priorities for the Biden administration.



a person wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd: President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris address the nation with victory speeches in Wilmington, Del. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)


© Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris address the nation with victory speeches in Wilmington, Del. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

1. Seeking more funding for election security – which Republicans could start seeing as politically beneficial.

Democrats’ effort to deliver billions of dollars to make elections more secure against hacking and safer during the pandemic were stymied during the past four years by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans who seemed to fear sparking Trump’s ire. The president seemed to view discussions about election security as delegitimizing his unexpected 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton and later spread unfounded rumors about widespread mail voting fraud. 

Republicans agreed to deliver more than $1 billion for election security and safety during the Trump administration, but that was only about one-fourth of what Democrats sought. 

Trump leaving office could clear the way for a far bigger package to fund a shift to paper ballots in states and counties that still lack them, increased mail voting and more…

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