Newswise — The University of Southern California on Tuesday will kick off its nonpartisan, independent, 50-state election cybersecurity training initiative in Maryland.

The initiative will feature daylong workshops in each state, designed to train state and local election and campaign officials how best to fortify against digital attacks. Participants will also learn best practices to protect against misinformation and disinformation and crisis communication strategies.

The inaugural event will be at the Dreamport Complex in Columbia, Md., on Jan. 28, 2020. Register here for the event:

The in-state programming will consist of briefings, interactive exercises, and discussions, presented by educators, issue experts, elected officials and thought leaders, unique to each location.

“The integrity of our electoral process is imperative for our democracy. We are looking forward to helping state and local officials prepare for potential threats—regardless of source, origin, party or candidate targeted,” said USC University Professor Geoffrey Cowan, the project’s principal investigator.

This essential information is designed for state and local election officials, campaign officials of all parties, academics, nongovernmental organizations and students. All events are open to the public and to the media.

“We intend to reach as many people as possible affiliated with state and local campaigns and elections,” said Adam Clayton Powell III, executive director of the project. “We are going to the 50 states to make sure the information is obtainable by everyone. We like to say our candidate is democracy.”

The initiative is led by the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, which is drawing on faculty expertise from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; USC Gould School of Law; USC Marshall School of Business; USC Price School of Public Policy; USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The effort is also supported by USC political experts, including some who have run presidential campaigns for candidates from both parties.

“The initiative’s goal is to provide our target audience—people involved in campaigns and elections—with expert advice that’s immediately actionable,” said Justin Griffin, the project’s managing director. “This is a complicated issue, but there are some easy steps that can mitigate immediate risks.”

Attendees will learn how to best protect their campaigns against misinformation and disinformation, hacking threats, and how to prepare and manage a potential crisis.

This project is made possible by generous support from Google. For more information, visit:

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Background on the USC Annenberg Center and the initiative on cybersecurity and elections

The USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy was created a dozen years ago when Professor Geoffrey Cowan stepped down after a decade as Dean of the USC Annenberg School to become a University Professor and to lead a new research and policy center. From the start,one of CCLP’s areas of focus has been the impact of communication technology on society. For more background on CCLP, please visit our website at:

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