US Intelligence Officers Say Iran, Russia Used Voter Information To Unfold Disinformation

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International actors in Iran and Russia have been utilizing public US voter registration information to unfold disinformation and undermine confidence within the 2020 election, high intelligence officers stated Wednesday.

“We’ve already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and harm President Trump,” John Ratcliffe, director of nationwide intelligence, stated throughout a information convention. “You will have seen some reporting on this … or you’ll have been one of many recipients.”

This week, threatening emails that claimed to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group supportive of the president, confirmed up within the inboxes of voters in a number of states, telling them to “vote for Trump on Election Day or we are going to come after you,” in line with a replica of one of many emails offered to BuzzFeed Information.

In actuality, the emails got here from overseas actors who exploited a weak web area related to the Proud Boys that was not too long ago dropped by its internet hosting service, the Washington Put up reported.

Ratcliffe stated officers believed Iran was additionally distributing a video that steered individuals might solid fraudulent ballots from abroad, including that the footage and its claims weren’t true.

“These actions are determined makes an attempt by determined adversaries,” he stated. “Even when the adversaries pursue additional makes an attempt to intimidate or try to undermine voter confidence, know that our election programs are resilient and you’ll be assured your votes are safe.”

Voter registration databases are publicly out there by request and in some states will be downloaded straight from their web sites.

A report final month in a Russian newspaper {that a} database of tens of millions of People’ private data had been posted on the darkish net raised considerations that Michigan’s voter system had been hacked. However a spokesperson for the secretary of state denied {that a} hack had occurred, noting that voter data is publicly accessible by Freedom of Info Act requests.

Ratcliffe stated that whereas intelligence officers haven’t but seen Russia take actions just like these linked to Iran, they’re conscious that overseas actors there have additionally obtained voter data as they did in 2016 and are ready to answer any additional actions in opposition to the US.

“The good ladies and men of the intelligence neighborhood caught this exercise instantly and our colleagues at FBI and DHS acted swiftly in response to this risk,” he stated. “We’re standing earlier than you now to provide the confidence that we’re on high of this and offering you with probably the most highly effective weapon we now have to fight these efforts: the reality. Info.”

Ratcliffe urged all People to “do their half” and “not permit these efforts to have their meant impact.”

“If you happen to obtain an intimidating or manipulative e-mail in your inbox do not be alarmed and don’t unfold it,” he stated.

The officers, who didn’t take any questions from reporters, didn’t say what motion, if any, can be taken in opposition to Iran in response to their actions, however FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that any makes an attempt by overseas actors to intrude with US elections can be “aggressively” investigated and met with “applicable motion.”

“We’re not going to let our guard down,” Wray stated.

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