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Census Bureau Boosts Cybersecurity Efforts Ahead of 2020 Census

The Census Bureau has increased its collaborative efforts with the Department of Homeland Security and intelligence community to protect the 2020 Census program from cyber threats, Federal News Network reported Friday.

In September, the Census participated in a DHS-led exercise to assess its ability to respond to possible cybersecurity scenarios in its population count in 2020.

The activity helped the agency understand its processes, organizational coordination and communication, according to Atri Kalluri, chief of the Census Bureau’s decennial information technology division.

He noted during the Census' recent quarterly performance management review that the agency will further initiate tabletop readiness exercises and systems testing to prepare its technological assets for incident response missions.

The bureau additionally intends to adopt a new process that would help protect personal data that malicious actors can manipulate and distribute to the public.

Simson Garfinkel, the Census Bureau's senior computer scientist for confidentiality and data access, explained that the agency will work to add "noise" in databases to prevent hackers from reconstructing personal information.

“Any noise doesn’t make database reconstruction impossible. Instead, it makes it so that there’s no way to tell if the reconstructed database is correct or not,” Garfinkel added.

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