The Wisconsin Elections Commission and U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have created a low-cost and simple way for local governments to obtain either a wi.gov or .gov email address.
The WEC has officially recommended that all Wisconsin counties and municipalities establish an official email address through this method.
Starting in 2022, the WEC will begin implementation of new policies to restrict official communications with unofficial email addresses. All WisVote users will eventually be required to have a .gov domain for official email communications.
What’s the reasoning for this change?
Some municipalities currently allow their clerks to use personal email accounts for official communications or to create shared accounts through free email providers (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, etc.). While these techniques are simple and inexpensive, they are not without risk.
These aforementioned free email providers have access to the contents of your messages and often have no restrictions on the use or sale of your personal data.
Free providers also allow anyone to create an account and use any name they choose. This opens the door for “spoofing”.
What is email spoofing?
Email spoofing is when an email address is created that looks similar to an official email address or can trick a user into believing it is an authentic email address. When attackers are able to spoof emails of government officials the public may be more likely to fall for scams and/or distrust official communications.
For example, it is impossible to tell which of the email addresses below is authentic:
- Actual Email Address: email@example.com
- Example #1 of Spoofed Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Example #2 of Spoofed Email Address: email@example.com
- Example #3 of Spoofed Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Even the use of a custom domain name, such as townofsmith.com, does not prevent spoofing. This is because anyone can obtain a .com or .us domain. Only the .gov domain is restricted to official U.S. government agencies.
For example, it is impossible to tell which one of these addresses below is authentic.
- Actual Email Address: email@example.com
- Example #1 of Spoofed Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Example #2 of Spoofed Email Address: email@example.com
- Example #3 of Spoofed Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Because of the risks described above, a growing number of government agencies will only conduct business through email with another .gov account. Anything else is simply too easy to spoof.
For more information on how we can help with spoofing, phishing, and the dark web, check out these pages:
How to obtain a .gov or .wi.gov email address
The WEC has provided all clerks with information on how to acquire an email service and how to attach that email service to a .gov or .wi.gov domain, however this does require some technical know-how.
Inter-Quest provides email services and Managed IT for many municipalities throughout Southern Wisconsin. We can help you quickly and easily get set up with a .gov or .wi.gov email address at low cost.
Simply contact us and we’ll handle the entire process for you.