WASHINGTON – As polling stations began closing Tuesday night on the East Coast and Midwest, top cybersecurity and intelligence officials said they were diverting their attention to ensuring that systems that aggregate, record and report results remain free from attack or foreign interference
Comparing polling day to a flight that could endure a bumpy takeoff before reaching a gentle cruising altitude, a senior cybersecurity official said: “We are entering this next phase of the flight here, we are preparing on landing, polls close, and nightly election reporting… presenting a whole new attack surface ”for opponents
State election reporting websites are likely to face a high level of demand from ordinary users, which could lead to website crashes Opponents could also damage these websites, try to modify official results, launch denial of service attacks or spread misinformation about counting and reporting, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, told reporters
The agency regularly holds phone meetings for journalists on what and how hundreds of intelligence, cybersecurity and election officials across the country are seeing
The CISA official said foreign state media such as Sputnik and RT, both controlled by the Kremlin, already broadcast disinformation about the winners of certain races and said any foreign reports on the election results should « Strong, strong, strong dose of skepticism »
With more than 100 million Americans voting early before election day, the final tally could reach a record high when polling stations in Alaska and Hawaii close, well past midnight on the East Coast But with a significant number of voters having voted by mail, the count could take a week or more, or even more if you take into account legal challenges from both parties.
The cybersecurity official warned that the official results of the country’s states could take two weeks or more and that the CISA will likely continue to monitor and track threats to electoral systems until all results be announced
At the start of the day, Christopher Krebs, director of CISA, told a press conference that polling day was only half time in a match and foreign opponents could arrange to other « activities or efforts to interfere with and undermine confidence in the election « Until all results are official and announced
Earlier today, polling stations opened with reports of an electronic ballot crash in some states, and officials having to switch to using paper ballots to verify voters before they can vote
Frank La Rose, Secretary of State for Ohio, said earlier today that Franklin County was moving to paper voting records due to a technical issue
Voters in as many as six states have also been reported to have been targeted with millions of automated calls and texts asking them to stay home amid COVID-19 fears The FBI and the Federal Communications Commission were investigating the calls, which the cybersecurity official said were a form of voter intimidation
Some Chinese Americans have reportedly received messages on WeChat, a messaging platform, warning them that protests were being organized and trying to instill fear among voters
The CISA official said that officials were aware of these posts and passed the information on to social media companies to respond
The official said the agency was closely monitoring attempts by foreign adversaries, especially Russia, to break into US electoral infrastructure The Army’s Cyber Command has expanded its mission to « hunt for forward ”to contribute to this effort, by analyzing foreign Internet activities to monitor attacks, the official said.
During the 2018 midterm elections, Cyber Command sent cyber detectives to Macedonia, Montenegro and Ukraine to identify Russian intelligence networks as well as tools the Kremlin could use against United States
Cyber Command’s efforts broadened to help identify tactics and tools the Iranians and Chinese could also use, The New York Times reported
Expanded scouting helps identify potential malware that adversaries can use and which is then shared with state election officials and private companies to search electoral systems, the CISA official said
While all attention was paid to cybersecurity threats or fears of misinformation, there were also fears of potential violence and physical intimidation of voters.
A senior official from the Department of Homeland Security told reporters there had been no outbreak of violence despite peaceful protests
United States Presidential Election, 2020, Donald Trump, United States Department of Homeland Security
Global News – AU – Cyber Security Focuses on Monitoring Post Results the closing of the polls
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