WASHINGTON – Russia and Iran are stepping up attacks on US government networks and computer systems, as well as disinformation campaigns designed to undermine the confidence of American voters less than two weeks before the presidential election.
A warning from US intelligence and election security officials came Thursday, less than 24 hours after the director of national intelligence accused Iran of sending a series of bogus emails designed to intimidate voters.
The FBI and the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warnings say the mailing, along with the ability of Russia and Iran to access voter registration information, is just the beginning of a broader campaign to undermine the US elections.
According to the FBI and CISA, attacks from Russia began in September and targeted dozens of state and local government networks involved in activities ranging from aviation to education.
The report says that the Russian hacker group Beserk Bear “successfully hacked into the network infrastructure and by October 1, 2020 retrieved data from at least two servers.”
Attackers also managed to obtain credentials that could allow them to roam the networks in search of sensitive information that they could use later.
“However, to date, the FBI and CISA have no evidence that the integrity of the election data has been compromised,” the statement said.
Departments did not provide additional information, but independent cybersecurity company Mandiant believes the Russian campaign was targeted against the elections.
While there has been at least one attack on an election-related target, “there is no information to suggest that these actors are able or willing to change the voting results,” Mandiant senior director of analysis John Haltqvist noted.