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August 27, 2016

Pennsylvania monitoring election systems to ensure security

Questions over cybersecurity have persisted during the presidential race, but Pennsylvania officials say they are ready for the November election.

Pennsylvania has been in contact with the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the state prepares for the upcoming election, according to Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren.

During a call with state election officials last week, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson proposed to help states identify security threats and hacking concerns ahead of the general election on Nov. 8.

Johnson maintained that there were no known credible cybersecurity threats at this time.

While Johnson encouraged state officials to apply federal recommendations on voting machines, the DHS acknowledged that the legitimacy of past elections has not been questioned.

Pennsylvania appears to be one state where officials are confident in existing security systems. However, Murren indicated that the state is looking at ways the DHS can be of assistance.

“The Commonwealth, in its Office of Administration/Office of Information Technology, employs its own cyber security experts," Murren told "They are working closely with our elections team to ensure the security of our elections-related systems.

"As with other mission-critical systems and data, Pennsylvania has implemented policies, technologies, best practices and procedures around the safeguarding of data and the protection of our applications, systems and resources.  We constantly monitor our data and systems for vulnerabilities and attempted attacks in order to keep pace with the rapidly evolving threat landscape.

“Best practice prevents us from discussing specifics of our security measures.”

Cybersecurity has already been a hot topic in this year's presidential election.

In June, Russian hackers gained access to the Democratic National Committee's computer networks.

That information was released days before July's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, embarrassing party officials and leading to the ouster of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Earlier this month, polls revealed that Hillary Clinton has a sizable lead over Donald Trump in the Keystone State.