No Information Suggesting Cyberattack on Election Infrastructure, Says FBI and DHS

September 29, 2020 Updated: September 29, 2020

The FBI said that there is no information that suggests there was a cyberattack on U.S. election infrastructure.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a statement on Monday, saying that there are “false claims of hacked voter information,” describing them as “disinformation.”

The agencies “are issuing this announcement to raise awareness of the potential threat posed by attempts to spread disinformation regarding cyberattacks on U.S. voter registration databases or voting systems,” according to the statement. They did not elaborate on the nature of the disinformation.

In another alert, the FBI and CISA—which is operated by the Department of Homeland Security—said that foreign actors and criminals have been spreading a number of false and inconsistent information during the 2020 election season. These efforts, they claimed, are an attempt to “manipulate public opinion, discredit the electoral process, and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions.”

The two agencies 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,” according to a joint statement.

The agencies did not elaborate on who is spreading the disinformation or where it is being posted online.

The warning comes after Michigan’s Department of State also denied there had been a cyberattack on its election systems after U.S. voter registration information appeared on a Russian hacking platform. The agency said that the voter information is readily available via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Last week, the FBI and CISA said (pdf) they would “continue to quickly respond to potential threats, provide recommendations to harden election infrastructure, notify stakeholders of threats and intrusion activity, and impose risks and consequences on cyber actors seeking to threaten U.S. elections.”

They called on Americans to seek out election information from “trustworthy sources,” also without elaborating, and called on people to “verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.”

Biden and Trump
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, left, speaks to reporters in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 13, 2020. On right, President Donald Trump before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on June 27, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images; Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Microsoft in early September published a report that found Chinese, Russian, and Iranian foreign actors are targeting political groups, including President Donald Trump’s and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaigns.

Before that, Attorney General William Barr told CNN on Sept. 2 that he believes the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses the largest foreign threat to election security, pushing back on largely Democratic Party claims that the Kremlin is trying to meddle in the election to secure Trump’s reelection.

“I believe it’s China,” Barr said. “China more than Russia right now.” But he stressed that he wouldn’t be surprised if Russia or another foreign state actor tries to meddle in the election just as Russia and other adversaries did during the 2016 election.

“Influence, basically, is two kinds of things. It’s hack and dump. You get into someone’s mail system and then try to disclose embarrassing documents. It wouldn’t surprise me if they try something like that, or any other country tries that. The other way is social media and putting things out on social media,” Barr said.

William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, found that China, Russia, and Iran are seeking to undermine the 2020 U.S. elections. Evanina said the Chinese regime is on the top of its list, saying Beijing has escalated its influence efforts to shape U.S. policy, pressure politicians, and tamp down criticism of the CCP.