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FBI: Iranian hackers obtained voter data from at least 1 US state

A computer with code on the screen. (Pixabay/Released)
November 02, 2020

The FBI and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned on Friday that Iranian hackers have been targeting U.S. state government election websites and “successfully obtained voter registration data in at least one state.”

In a joint cybersecurity advisory, the FBI and CISA said the Iranian hacker group scanned state websites, including state election websites, during September 20-28 and was also responsible for a campaign of voter intimidation emails and U.S. election-related disinformation throughout the month of October.

“CISA and the FBI can confirm that the actor successfully obtained voter registration data in at least one state,” the joint statement read.

The FBI and CISA said stolen voter registration information was used in propaganda. A separate FBI alert stated the videos are “almost certainly intended to make US voter information and the voting process appear insecure and susceptible to fraud.”

The propaganda video described by the FBI and CISA also repeats claims that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots even from overseas.

The FBI and CISA listed a series of Iran-linked internet protocol (IP) addresses that “facilitated the mass dissemination of voter intimidation email messages on October 20,” of this year.

The FBI alert also stated Iranian advanced persistent threat (APT) actors “are creating fictitious media sites and spoofing legitimate media sites to spread anti-American propaganda and misinformation about voter suppression.”

Neither the FBI nor CISA assessed the Iranian hackers have changed any votes or that they can interfere with official election tallies.

The warning about Iran’s election interference efforts came with just days to go before election day on Nov. 3.

An August intelligence community report assessed Russian interests to denigrate presidential candidate Joe Biden and promote President Donald Trump, while also assessing Chinese and Iranian interests to undermine Trump’s reelection chances.

The FBI Director Chris Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe warned last week about election interference efforts by both Iran and Russia. Some of the emails were reportedly made to look like they came from a right-wing group known as the Proud Boys. During his remarks, Ratcliffe said the Iranian mass-email campaign was meant to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”

Following Wray and Ratcliffe’s announcement, the Washington Examiner reported that William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said, “We’re trying to identify if the data taken by Russia and Iran was also available publicly, but right now, all we know is both nations took voter data registration information from places that were election-related infrastructure.”