Threat actors are expected to launch disinformation campaigns targeting the results of the 2020 elections in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in an alert this week.
Spreading disinformation on the results of the elections represents a threat to the credibility of the electoral process, meant to undermine confidence in the democratic institutions in the United States, the alert reads.
According to the FBI and CISA, both foreign actors and cybercriminals are expected to target the 2020 elections through newly created websites, changes made to existing websites, as well as through the creation and sharing of corresponding social media content containing false information.
Election results, the two agencies note, are typically validated within several days or weeks, to ensure that every legally cast vote has been accurately counted. This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in the use of mail-in ballots, which leads to incomplete results on election night.
“Foreign actors and cybercriminals could exploit the time required to certify and announce elections’ results by disseminating disinformation that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections’ illegitimacy,” the alert reads.
Thus, the FBI and CISA advise towards evaluating sources of information to ensure they are reliable (such as state and local election officials) and that they provide verified information. What’s more, the agencies say, the public should also keep in mind that, even if threat actors may successfully alter election-related websites, the underlying data and internal systems remain uncompromised.
The public is also advised to verify who produced the content they are accessing, verify through multiple sources any reports on issues related to voting or election results before sharing such content on social media or other venues, and rely on election officials for information on final election results.
Furthermore, the public is encouraged to report potential election crimes, such as disinformation on the election process, to the FBI, or use the tools offered by social media companies to report posts that might be spreading false or inconsistent election-related information.
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