More Russian meddling? Now, the Census says it's worried

Just when you thought you were free of Russian meddling, they pull you back in.

Officials at the U.S. Census Bureau say they are concerned with the distinct possibilities of Russian interests hacking into the government’s census operations next year, much as they did during the 2016 election cycle.

“Most of the agencies of the federal government that ingest data are very concerned about interference in the process of taking the 2020 census,” said John Abowd. He’s the chief scientist in the Census Bureau.

Abowd told a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta conference:

We are very concerned about this and very concerned about developing appropriate defenses.

Maybe I’m alone with this concern, but it sure seems like we too often these days hear a surplus of words from federal officials about the dangers and threats and evil nature of foreign governments and hackers breaking into government and industry electronic systems to steal personal and security information.

Got that. I’ve worked in government where you intentionally talk openly about these threats and concerns to show the public you’re aware of the threats, Great.

But maybe they could do a lot more to focus on actually stopping at least some of these threats, and heaven forbid, even retaliating to show the bad guys there’s a price to pay for electronic break-ins.

Abowd said government security and information officers do meet regularly to examine potential threats and ways to detect and defend against them.

He said the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has a team of about 20 focused on system security and gaming possible attempts to infiltrate it electronically.

The official 2020 Census is set for next April 1. Of course, the mass of data and sampling is eventually public. But maybe Russian hackers are in a hurry to know the average education and income in rural Kansas.