Federal authorities confident in 2020 election security
Secretary of Homeland Security said no &# 171; any indication that foreign adversaries have compromised today’s U.S. election
Security officials for the U.S. presidential election remain confident of no major threats on election day – Tuesday, November 3.
A senior representative of the Computer and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), who spoke to journalists on condition of anonymity, described the threat to the country’s electoral infrastructure as «much lower» compared to 2016, when Russian hackers attacked voting systems in all 50 states.
«It looks like a regular election day at the moment.», – added the interlocutor, noting that in some states there were technical problems, many of which have already been resolved.
On Tuesday, it became known about the long lines gathered at polling stations across the country. This is attributed to the fact that in 2020, an unusually large number of Americans decided to vote in the presidential elections, during which a tough battle unfolded between the candidates. However, the pressure on electoral infrastructure has eased, officials said, as more than 100 million Americans voted by mail or early voting..
«We have no evidence that a foreign adversary managed to compromise or influence the votes cast by voters in this election.», – Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolfe said in a press briefing hours after polling station doors opened, “ Our electoral infrastructure is resilient … We remain on high alert».
US authorities have already reported at least two attempts to infiltrate systems deemed critical to elections in recent weeks. – one of the attacks was carried out by Iran, and another – from Russia.
In both cases, hackers managed to steal information from voter registration databases, while Iranian hackers managed to infiltrate a state’s database and use that data to conduct a voter disinformation campaign..
However, on Tuesday, officials said the attacks were quickly suppressed and would not affect the outcome of the election..
Officials also noted that the proactive strategy chosen by the US Cyber Command helped to prevent or block potential attempts by attackers to influence the course of the elections. Cyber Command said they are ready to respond to any possible attacks if necessary.
«We have defensive cyber components that are set up at command posts, awaiting the signal [of a threat]. If something happens that requires our help from the Department of Homeland Security, we are trained to do this, we have worked together in the past and we are ready for it.», – said «Voice of America» Cyber Command Representative.
However, federal and state officials have raised concerns about attempts to intimidate voters, including cryptic automated calls to stay at home on election day, which were received by some voters in at least six states..
A CISA spokesman said the FBI is investigating these calls, recalling that «automated calls of this kind are received by voters at every election».
FBI officials declined to comment, but urged voters to seek information directly from local election commissions. While the origins of the calls remain unclear, it looks like the phenomenon began a long time ago..
«We received complaints about these automated calls throughout the campaign season.» – said Kristen Clarke, president and chief executive officer of the Lawyers‘ Committee on Civil Rights. However, she said, the number of such calls rose sharply on Tuesday, election day..
Security officials are also asking Americans to remain vigilant, warning that opponents of the United States such as Russia, China, and Iran may wait until the vote is over to launch more serious attacks..
«I can’t say that the danger is over», – CISA director Christopher Krebs said on Tuesday.
«Today, in a sense, there was a break between rounds [attacks]. There may be other events, actions or attempts to interfere with and undermine the credibility of the elections, he said. I ask all Americans to be patient and skeptical about all sensational statements.».
Counterintelligence officials are particularly concerned about ongoing influence operations, warning that Russia, China and Iran, in particular, are trying to influence Americans by exploiting existing political divisions and seeking to create distrust in the electoral process..
Officials also accuse all three US opponents of trying to influence the outcome of the US presidential race, support or harm the candidacies of President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. But besides this, about 30 countries also tried to influence the American elections, among which they were as American allies – Saudi Arabia and Turkey – as well as opponents, including Cuba and Venezuela.
By Tuesday morning, authorities had evidence of at least one disinformation campaign targeting Chinese Americans. Security agencies are working with other government agencies and social media companies to address this issue..
According to investigative website ProPublica, at least two dozen groups on Chinese social media app WeChat have tried to intimidate voters by spreading rumors that the US government is about to mobilize troops to quell impending unrest..
Security officials also raised concerns about foreign-backed media outlets that produce what one interlocutor described as «the constant drumbeat of misinformation».
Last Sunday, Donald Trump‘s top coronavirus advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas, apologized on Twitter after being interviewed by RT from the White House, stating that he «didn’t know they were a registered foreign agent».