DHS warn of disinformation around cyberattacks on election infrastructure

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Monday warned that foreign groups and other malicious actors online are spreading disinformation around potential cyberattacks on U.S. election infrastructure.

“During the 2020 election season, foreign actors and cyber criminals are spreading false and inconsistent information through various online platforms in an attempt to manipulate public opinion, discredit the electoral process, and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions,” the agencies wrote in a joint public service announcement.

They noted that “these malicious actors could use these forums to also spread disinformation suggesting successful cyber operations have compromised election infrastructure and facilitated the ‘hacking’ and ‘leaking’ of U.S. voter registration data.”

Voter registration databases were successfully accessed in a few states by Russian agents ahead of the 2016 presidential election, though there is no evidence any voter registration rolls or ballots were changed.

The agencies warned that U.S. voter information is widely available through other avenues than illegal hacking, and that access to voter information had not impacted election results.

“The FBI and CISA have no information suggesting any cyberattack on U.S. election infrastructure has prevented an election from occurring, compromised the accuracy of voter registration information, prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot, or compromised the integrity of any ballots cast,” the agencies wrote.