Analysis In 2020, America will run its once-a-decade national census, but the results may not reflect reality if hackers manage to have their way.
On Tuesday, the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard that the 2020 census will be the first to make extensive use of electronic equipment. For example, census workers will be given tablets to interview people who can’t be bothered filling in and sending back their forms.
Crucially, the US Census Bureau must patch vulnerabilities and install strong defenses in the computer systems it has set up to find and tabulate American citizens. With less than three years to go, a little more hustle in that department is needed, it seems.
“The bureau has not addressed several security risks and challenges to secure its systems and data, including making certain that security assessments are completed in a timely manner and that risks are at an acceptable level,” Eugene Dodaro, the US Comptroller General, said in a statement read out during the Senate hearing.
“It is important that the bureau quickly address these challenges.”
Previously, the census was recorded by mailing paper forms to every household in the country, and then dispatching data collectors to quiz citizens who don’t return their completed paperwork. Dodaro reported that “because the nation’s population is growing larger, more diverse, and more reluctant to participate,” response rates were at an historic low: just 63 per cent of households replied by mail in 2010 compared to 78 per cent in 1970.
Source: The Register