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Public-Private Partnerships for Election Systems Cybersecurity

Overview for Public-Private Partnerships

Cybersecurity is considered a challenging entity of the information age for International Relations scholars and policymakers. It has a great role to play in national security, human rights, the economy, international legal frameworks, and civil liberties. Although political leaders are aware of threats that come with cybersecurity, there has been anxiety surrounding how to resolve or address these issues (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018).

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The governments have responded by developing national cybersecurity strategies that would guide them on the way forward. Many cities have infrastructural systems that are critical where they have privatized some of them such as finance, transport, and utilities (Public-Private-Partnership Legal Resource Center [PPPLRC], 2020). It comprises a public-private partnership that aims at mitigating cybersecurity threats. This paper explores the public-private partnership and explains benefits for businesses, costs, and risks, and offers a recommendation for companies.

In the United Kingdom and the United States, public-private partnership is considered as a ‘hub’ or ‘cornerstone’ for cybersecurity mitigation strategies. This partnership aims at detecting threats and anomalous behaviors in creating more secure networks (Leigland, 2018). The partnership between the government and the private entities works well through effective innovations and technologies that are expected to complete the project considering the budget and time. The private sector provides technological infrastructure while the public provides incentives to deliver the projects (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018). For this to happen, the government enacts laws that govern these partnerships and establishes a clear framework on matters development, procurement as well as the implementation of the project.

Political leadership must ensure that the public is aware of the costs, risks, and benefits of these partnerships. An effective partnership undertaking requires an active consultative and engagement with all stakeholders as well as the end-users (CyberSecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency [CISA], 2021). These stakeholders include key entities such as labor unions and non-governmental organizations, as well as civil society groups who may take a mandate of overseeing the environmental and social consequences and the impacts the project has on the rights of the minorities. Moreover, there should be a regulation that safeguards the interest of both parties.

A regulatory policy and governance should oversee the cost reduction in the partnership to ensure the projects bring value for the utilized money. It is also important to consider laws that govern the transfer of risks from public to a private entities. The risk should be identified, measured, defined, and transferred through a contractual term, which dictates an appropriate mechanism of payment. Moreover, the government must ensure that the tender process undergoes sufficient competition to ensure the participation of non-incumbent operators as well as ensuring the integrity of the same. The Central Budget Authority in line with the State’s fiscal policy must ensure that the project is within the financial capability and sustainability of the government.

Overview of Elections Systems Cybersecurity

Election security is a debatable topic, which revolves around how to improve the voting process and how to avoid threats in the US electoral process. The relationship between the ballot box and security concerns focus on voting databases, information operations, and third-party aggregator. Many of these questions linger in the minds of the stakeholders on what should be done (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018). These issues can be addressed by the state, national and local agencies since the databases of voter registration are a great concern to the governments. Although the private entity may be given a mandate of securing these systems, it is the ultimate role of the civil servants to decide on what to be protected and how it should be done.

Cybersecurity companies have incredible know-how of malware details as well as the malicious activities that can occur in systems and networks. Such companies are also able to defend businesses from cyber-attacks (Homeland Security, 2021).

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Public-private partnerships in securing the electoral process involve security service providers, endpoint detection, and response procedures. They have a vast understanding of security threats and concerns they encounter every day (Cui et al., 2018). If the United States government can share techniques, tactics, and procedures of an election threat, private security actors can develop customized detection rules within a visible global network (Germano, 2016). They can also work with their customers who can share information with the state officials on any threat to the election system.

The public-private partnership aims at shedding the light on the election systems’ security. The more the private sector gets involved in unearthing the problems, the lesser the places the atrocities get to hide. Involving a large group of cybersecurity companies in securing these systems can help elucidate malicious activities that are prone to an election security process. The private industry is an essential entity that safeguards public information and resources such as network safety. This brings into consideration how private industry participates in ensuring the US electoral-based system is out of threats.

Currently, the critical infrastructure security system involves many entities such as the National Communications Systems, National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which was established as a national response, center focusing on communications networks. The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the reasons that led to the US elections being conducted differently (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018). In 2020, it is believed that there was a launch of cyber-attacks by three countries that were focusing on the presidential elections. The public-private partnership in the US witnessed the importance of working together in fighting cybersecurity threats.

The inclusion of vast technological strategic practices over the internet makes information and data very vulnerable to offenders. Similarly, criminals may work together with their counterparts in targeting the states’ crucial information. As a result, the Obama administration launched an executive order 13691which defines the importance of information sharing by the Department of Homeland Security. Information analysis and sharing main goals include transparency, inclusivity, and flexibility. Another activity of this partnership in addressing the cyber-security framework is improving cyber resilience. It aims at identifying, protecting, detecting, responding, and recovering.

Benefits for Businesses and the Problem of both Costs and Risks

It is difficult to determine when cyberattacks are likely to happen since they can be suffered before and after the voting process. This means that both public and private organizations need to enhance their collaboration to hinder cyber threats and frustrate any effort made by attackers (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018). Businesses can benefit from government support in the identification and development of effective prevention measures. Financial assistance enables businesses to improve their management and address issues of cybersecurity in a better way. This can improve their ability to consider new ideas, introduce new services, as well as acquire additional software.

The public-private partnership would bring many benefits in the Elections Security area including improved access to technology, skills, and people. Purchasing power purchase agreements would enable the public sector to introduce expertise, administration, and infrastructure from the private sector. The private sector would benefit through improved access to capital from the government (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018).

Transfer of risk is another benefit that the partnership is likely to bring forth. Maintaining an equilibrium between the risk borne by the private sector and the risk in the public sector would facilitate the development of better methods of handling security issues (Homeland Security, 2021). The private sector would handle all risks while the public sector would deal with responsibilities associated with property-owning.

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Improved investment opportunities are another benefit that would come with public-private relationships. It would become possible for many private businesses to boost their experience and expertise, and take part in large infrastructure programs. Moreover, private organizations would be better placed to enhance their skillset and gain desirable know-how to handle security risks (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018). The partnership would promote business development through the elimination of challenging security issues. Successful collaboration can help understand risks in a better way and improve the development of mitigation measures. Moreover, the partnership would facilitate the development of the best approach to deal with arising issues.

The Problem of Risks and Costs

There is the problem of risks and costs when private businesses partner with public organizations. One of those risks is that information of a business is exposed to the federal government compromising its privacy. The second risk is that debt is attached to cost since the private sector only receives financing in case their operating cashflows offer a return on investment (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018).

This implies that the cost needs to be borne by either the government or the customer. The other risk is that the ongoing costs, bidding, and developments in the public-private partnership are usually higher than the traditional government procurement processes. The involved organizations need to determine whether the incurred cost is justifiable through evaluating the value of money and analyzing costs. Moreover, it is necessary to evaluate the obligation of the private sectors as well as identify the involved liability.

Set of Best Practices or Recommendations

Collaboration between the private and government can help combat cyber-threats and promote robust and rapid response. This should come along with the promotion of the private sector and government coordination (Andonova, 2017).

Best practices can be applied to enhance the ability of election-related organizations and identify areas of concern that need close monitoring as well as sensitive points. It is necessary to improve collaboration, and establish better methods of dealing with arising issues and secure the IT systems (Yescombe & Farquharson, 2018). Some of the beneficial practices that need to be considered include log management, software, and patch management, credential management, blocking suspicious activity, as well as organization-wide IT policies and guidance. Moreover, it is crucial to consider the consent and notice banners for computer systems.

It is necessary to enhance privacy and identify challenges that are likely to emerge from the security standpoint before the involvement in a public-private partnership. It is recommendable to collect all the necessary information to support effective decision-making. Moreover, the collected information must be kept secure and safe depending on the intended partners (Hueskes et al., 2017). Since partnership would increase the sharing of resources, it is recommendable to take issues of security and safety seriously. This would play a role in ensuring that malicious individuals do not take advantage of possible “gaps” in cybersecurity to cause harm or compromise the integrity of data.

Effective measures should be ensured to promote trust and confidence in the subsequent partnership. Moreover, developing a culture of security can enhance coordination and lower the involved risks. The culture can enhance the identification of areas requiring improvement and encourage the establishment of corrective measures (Andonova, 2017). Organizations need to understand information to be collected, involved parties, and recommended storage. The first step in enhancing security is the identification of user data, usage information, as well as credit card information (Hueskes et al., 2017). It is then necessary to develop procedures and policies that need to be followed to enhance cybersecurity.

The establishment of an effective assessment of the environment as well as the identification of potential vulnerabilities can support Cyber preparedness. It should offer a detailed analysis of the cyber-incident response plan. Due diligence in decision-making requires the investigation, verification, as well as audit of investment opportunity or potential deal to confirm financial information and relevant facts. It must obtain useful information in deal valuing, identify potential defects, and ensure that investment opportunities comply with the relationship agreement.

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Summary and Conclusion

The relationship between private and public companies is important in enhancing cybersecurity since it impacts all industries and organizations. Although joints efforts and collaboration between the two sectors are challenging, it promotes the security of networks. Private businesses benefit from the relationship by attaining improved security of personnel, equipment as well as environment. They also attain better protection against information threats that are likely to compromise their security. The relationships encourage the establishment of a government-industry alliance, improved national information technology, and growth.

In the wake of the Covid-19 as witnessed in the US, the elections were conducted over the internet, and securing such systems was critical (Erbach, 2020). This would have not been successful were it not for the partnership between the public and private security entities. These partnerships should be safeguarded by laying down necessary laws, regulations as well as policies to ensure both parties’ benefits are yielded.


Andonova, L. B. (2017). Governance entrepreneurs: International organizations and the rise of global public-private partnerships. Cambridge University Press.

Cui, C., Liu, Y., Hope, A., & Wang, J. (2018). Review of studies on the public-private partnerships (PPP) for infrastructure projects. International Journal of Project Management, 36(5), 773-794. Web.

CyberSecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. (2021). Cybersecurity Framework. CyberSecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. Web.

Erbach, M (2020). The Role DHS Can Play in Election Security. FedTech. Web.

Germano, J. H. (2016). Cybersecurity Partnerships: A New Era of Public-Private Collaboration. The Center on Law and Security. Web.

Homeland Security (2021). The Department of Homeland Security. Web.

Hueskes, M., Verhoest, K., & Block, T. (2017). Governing public-private partnerships for sustainability: An analysis of procurement and governance practices of PPP infrastructure projects. International Journal of Project Management, 35(6), 1184-1195. Web.

Leigland, J. (2018). Public-private partnerships in developing countries: The emerging evidence-based critique. The World Bank Research Observer, 33(1), 103-134. Web.

Public-Private-Partnership Legal Resource Center. (2020). What are Public-Private Partnerships? The World Bank. Web.

Yescombe, E. R., & Farquharson, E. (2018). Public-private partnerships for infrastructure: Principles of policy and finance. Butterworth-Heinemann.

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