The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned today of foreign influence operations that might spread disinformation to affect the results of this year’s midterm elections.
The federal law enforcement agency warned that foreign actors are actively spreading election infrastructure disinformation to manipulate public opinion, discredit the electoral process, sow discord, and encourage a lack of trust in democratic processes and institutions.
As the FBI added, foreign actors might also target the public with attempts to incite violence before and after the midterms.
“Foreign actors may intensify efforts to influence outcomes of the 2022 midterm elections by circulating or amplifying reports of real or alleged malicious cyber activity on election infrastructure,” the FBI said in a public service announcement jointly issued with CISA.
“Additionally, these foreign actors may create and knowingly disseminate false claims and narratives regarding voter suppression, voter or ballot fraud, and other false information intended to undermine confidence in the election processes and influence public opinion of the elections’ legitimacy.”
Disinformation campaigns could use various channels to spread and amplify false claims, including spoofed websites, fake social media personas, and dark web and publicly available media channels.
These platforms could be used to spread claims that election infrastructure has been compromised, using “hacked” or “leaked” U.S. voter registration data likely to cast doubt on the election’s legitimacy.
“While some voter registration information is publicly available, the FBI and CISA have no information suggesting any cyber activity against U.S. election infrastructure has impacted the accuracy of voter registration information, prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot, or compromised the integrity of any ballots cast,” the PSA says.
These efforts by foreign actors aim to undermine voter confidence and to entice unwitting consumers of information and third-party individuals to like, discuss, share, and amplify the spread of false or misleading narratives. — FBI
Americans urged to use trusted sources only
The FBI and CISA urged voters to carefully evaluate their sources of information in the lead-up to and after the 2022 midterm elections and to only trust info from trusted sources, including reputable news outlets and election officials.
Two years ago, before the 2020 U.S. elections, the Director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) shared info on election influence efforts linked to China, Russia, and Iran.
This was followed by two PSAs regarding spreading disinformation about the results of the 2020 U.S. elections and detailing how attempts to compromise election infrastructure could only slow down but not prevent voting efforts.
Influence operations remain the biggest threat to the election process, as shown by another advisory issued this week by the two federal agencies.
The FBI and CISA said cyber-attacks attempting to compromise election infrastructure are unlikely to affect election results and will not prevent or cause massive disruption of the voting process.