The Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency [CISA] issued an announcement on Monday, September 28, to to warn against disinformation about attacks on the voter registration databases and voting systems.
The FBI and CISA warns that during the current election season, foreign actors and cyber criminals are spreading false and inconsistent information online for the following purposes:
- Attempt to manipulate public opinion
- Discredit the electoral process
- Undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions
Calling those spreading this disinformation “malicious actors,” the announcement says they 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.”
The announcement also notes that much voter information can be purchased online and that voter information has been illegally obtained in the past but never impacted the voting process or integrity of elections.
The FBI and CISA issued the following recommendations for individuals:
- Seek out information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
- Rely on state and local election officials for information about voter registration databases and voting systems.
- View early, unverified claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.
- Verify through multiple reliable sources any reports about compromises of voter information or voting systems and consider searching for other reliable sources before sharing such information via social media or other avenues.
- Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
- If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voter information or voting systems.
The FBI encourages members of the public to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to their local field office. The local field office for Massachusetts is in Boston and can be reached at (857) 386-2000 or on the internet at boston.fbi.gov.
The FBI is responsible for investigating malign foreign influence operations and malicious cyber activity targeting election infrastructure and other U.S. democratic institutions.
CISA is responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats and has provided voluntary guidance, training, exercises, and other resources to help state and local election officials secure their voter registration systems and data.