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2022 Election Not Impacted by Chinese, Russian Cyber Activity: DOJ, DHS

Hackers, including from Russia and China, launched cyberattacks and collected information, but it did not impact the integrity and security of the 2022 US election.

Election cyber attack

Threat actors were observed launching cyberattacks and collecting information during the 2022 mid-term election in the United States, but there is no evidence of significant impact, according to a joint report published on Monday by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

An analysis conducted by the DOJ, the FBI, the DHS and the cybersecurity agency CISA found no indication that foreign government-affiliated actors compromised the integrity or security of the election, which is consistent with the statements made by officials shortly after the vote.

In their declassified report, the government agencies confirmed that threat actors, including ones connected to Russia and China, did conduct cyber activities aimed at the election. 

For instance, pro-Russian hacktivists launched a DDoS attack that temporarily prevented access to a website belonging to a state election office. In addition, threat actors linked to the Chinese government scanned state government websites, including ones related to the election, and collected publicly available voter information, “probably to collect personal identifying information and other data on US voters”.

While in some cases cybercriminals and other hackers did manage to compromise US state and local government networks, there is no evidence of significant impact. 

“We have no evidence that any detected activity prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner; altered any technical aspect of the voting process; or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information or any ballots cast during 2022 federal elections,” the DOJ and DHS said in their report.

The US intelligence community previously determined that it would be difficult for a foreign actor to manipulate election processes at scale without being detected. 

The report from the DOJ and DHS does not cover the impact of foreign efforts to sway voters or influence opinion. This aspect is covered in a separate declassified report published on Monday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

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The ODNI report shows that China, Russia, Iran and others were either directly involved or tacitly approved activities whose goal was to influence voting and undermine confidence in US institutions, politicians and elections.

Related: Head of US Cybersecurity Agency Sees Progress on Election Security, With More Work Needed for 2024

Related: Army Combat Veteran to Take Over Key Election Security Role Working With State, Local Officials

Related: Attacks From Within Seen as a Growing Threat to Elections

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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