Former special investigator Robert Mueller warned again this week that Russia wanted to influence American politics. Hackers tried to intervene in the US 2020 election campaigns “while we sit,” he said during his interrogation in Congress on Wednesday. The day after, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the first part of its report on the 2016 election campaign.
Russians had tried to attack voter databases and voting machines in all 50 states at the same time to intervene American politics. That had happened in a previously unknown extent. Both parties warned in the report that attempts to interfere would be likely at the next 2020 election. However, the text contains a lot of blackening – some of the preventive recommendations were also censored.
Russians had tried to attack voter databases and voting machines in all 50 states at the same time
The attacks would have reached an “unprecedented level” in 2016, the senators said. There was a systematic search for vulnerabilities in state election infrastructure. Thus, Russian hackers have been able to penetrate into some voter databases.
However, no votes were falsified or deleted. Ultimately, the report would show above all what the hackers were and could possibly do in the future. It was noted with some confusion that it was unclear why the Russians had not used their technical capabilities last time and whether they intended to do so in the future.
Richard Burr, the Republican committee chairman, said: “In 2016, the United States at all levels of government was unprepared for a concerted attack by a determined foreign opponent on our electoral infrastructure and to influence American politics.” Since then, much has been learned about the techniques of hackers and the learned future threat.
This can also be criticized by the security authorities of the previous governments, especially President Barack Obama, to be read. Obama had at least one Cyber Security Coordinator in the White House on the job – the position was abolished by Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton. Responsible under Obama was last Michael Daniel, who also testified for the Senate report.
Obama had at least one Cyber Security Coordinator in the White House on the job – the position was abolished by Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton
Daniel believes that the Russians in 2016 mainly collected information. “At the time, I characterized it as a kind of exploration phase, exploring the network to understand it and settle in, to come back later and perform an operation,” he speculated.
The report lists the reports of individual states that registered suspicious activity. The states are not all named, instead they say, “10 States blocked malicious activity on the online voter register.” Illinois is named because the case is known: there, Russian hackers gained access to the data of 200,000 registered voters. They were thus able to change or delete data – but there is no evidence that they did. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that some states like New Jersey have no funds to reform their attack-prone election databases.
So far, the states have all their own databases, machines, and counting processes-some experts considered that to be an advantage because the inconsistency makes a coordinated attack more difficult. The Senate report was against this view: The Russians had just used the interfaces between the systems – also said the state officials are not up to the attack of a nation-state actor.
Russian hackers gained access to the data of 200,000 registered voters
Several senators criticized that there are no guidelines on how the voter databases should be protected against cyber attacks. Nevertheless, the Republicans resist the extension of the powers of the federal government, because election supervision is a matter for the states. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, once again blocked Democrats’ proposals this week to give the Confederation more control over security measures.
President Donald Trump, which the Russians favored according to the Mueller report in 2016, played down the attempts of influence several times during his term of office and even insisted that he believed the Russian president that the Kremlin had nothing to do with it.
The report, now published in part, contains only the first part of the results. The intelligence committee questioned more than 200 witnesses and sighted nearly 400,000 documents. In the next part of the report the senators want to deal with the social media. In the 2016 election, after all, there were not only hacking attacks, but also social media campaigns with bots and paid actors.
Russian fake account, @blackstagram, had more than 300,000 followers
According to a study by the Internet security firm “New Knowledge” and New York’s Columbia University last year, they were particularly focused on African Americans. They should be prevented from voting for Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Instagram’s most popular Russian fake account, @blackstagram, had more than 300,000 followers. On Facebook, therefore, were about 30 Russian accounts to black Americans to intervene in American politics. The aim was to make supporters of Clinton’s inferior intra-party competitor Bernie Sanders stay at home in the election.
According to the research, existing conflicts in American society should be fueled, much as Soviet propaganda did decades ago. The impact of these attacks can not be measured. What the government specifically wants to do to prevent future disinformation campaigns is still unclear.