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Additional Info

Job title of nominated professional (or team name)CEO
Company (where nominated professional or team is working)Cambridge Global Advisors
Company size (employees)10 to 49
Headquarters RegionNorth America

In 3 bullets, summarize why this professional or team deserves recognition:

--Jake Braun’s leadership in the creation of the DEFCON Voting Village spurred a growing conversation among U.S. national security leaders on the urgent need for federal, state and local election officials to implement measures to secure U.S. election infrastructure. In October 2017, Braun partnered with the Atlantic Council to release a report about the DEFCON Voting Village’s findings. This report is being used by U.S. national security leaders to inform new policies to secure the critical infrastructure of the U.S. election system.

--Braun is also using the findings of the DEFCON Voting Village to educate members of the academic community and graduate students about the importance of creating public policy to safeguard the U.S. election system. The DEFCON Voting Village report formed the basis for the first-ever public policy course on election cybersecurity, which Braun taught at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

--Finally, Braun consulted on and supported one of the most important outcomes of the DEFCON Voting Village: the nation’s first ever cybersecurity election plan, proposed by team member Noah Praetz, Director of Elections for Cook County, Illinois. This landmark plan is an important step forward in securing U.S. election infrastructure and would not have been possible without the evidence of U.S. voting system vulnerabilities provided by the DEFCON Voting Village.

Brief Overview

Jake Braun led the team that created the first-ever “Voting Machine Hacking Village” at DEFCON, the world’s largest and best-known hacker conference, in July 2017 to highlight cyber vulnerabilities in U.S. election infrastructure – including voting machines, voter registration databases, and election office networks. The voting machines available in the Voting Village were paperless electronic voting machines, and at a time when a number of U.S. voting jurisdictions are either committed to or considering purchasing newer equipment based on auditable paper records, open examination of these types of systems could not be timelier.

Previous tests of electronic voting machines were conducted only in limited academic or industrial settings under strict controls and publications restrictions. Braun’s Voting Village created the first opportunity for mainstream hackers to gain unrestricted access to explore and share any discovered vulnerabilities.

One consequence of the limited access to voting machine hardware in the past is that doubts have been frequently raised about if the various vulnerabilities identified in previous studies would be practical for technologists of ordinary skill to discover and exploit. At the DEFCON event, however, thousands of participants were invited to engage with and explore voting equipment and the network simulator in an environment free of restriction for the first time.

By the end of the conference, every piece of equipment (25 voting machines) in the Voting Village was effectively breached. Participants with little prior knowledge and only limited tools and resources were quite capable of undermining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of these systems.

The results of Braun’s efforts confirmed what election security advocates have been arguing for years: There is urgent need for federal, state and local election officials to implement measures to secure U.S. election infrastructure.