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Ahead of Election, FBI, CISA Issue Warning on Disinformation Campaigns

by Chris Brook on Tuesday September 29, 2020

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The FBI and CISA have issued another warning about the 2020 election, asserting that foreign actors are spreading disinformation around hacked voter information.

In advance of the first 2020 U.S. presidential debate tonight and what's expected to be a controversial presidential election, two government agencies urged vigilance around disinformation campaigns that may target voters on Monday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) both issued a joint public service announcement on Monday warning that hackers and foreign actors, in an effort to sow discord and undermine democracy, are spreading false information about hacked election infrastructure and leaked voter registration data.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last four years, the warning shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Disinformation, compounded by political vitriol, fear around an unresolved presidential election, and foreign interference has only further stoked the flames around November’s election.

The FBI and CISA formally warned about the dangers of disinformation in the warning, stressing attackers could use platforms to manipulate public opinion, and diminish the credibility of the electoral process, and in turn, trust in the U.S. government.

While voter data can be accessed online - in some states anyone can request voter registration lists - it’s never had an impact on elections.

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

The two agencies are encouraging Americans to stop and think before sharing or believing things they read on the internet and to exercise caution when presented with stories on hacked or leaked voter registration databases or systems.

In general, individuals should do the following to verify the integrity of news on the election and voting, according to CISA and the FBI:

  • Seek out information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
  • Rely on state and local election officials for information about voter registration databases and voting systems.
  • View early, unverified claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.
  • Verify through multiple reliable sources any reports about compromises of voter information or voting systems, and consider searching for other reliable sources before sharing such information via social media or other avenues.
  • Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
  • If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voter information or voting systems.

The warning is the latest in a series via the two agencies; last week the groups tried to raise awareness around the likeliness attackers could spread disinformation around the election's results.

Both warnings follow a statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence William Evanina that foreign actors with China, Russia and Iran have a preference for who wins the election and want to further divide the country.

Tags:  Government

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