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FBI: Iranian ‘cyber actors’ sent death threats to US election officials

Computer code. (PXhere/Released)
December 28, 2020

The FBI accused Iranian cyber actors of threatening U.S. election officials through a website they created called enemiesofthepeople.org.

In a Wednesday press release, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said they “possess highly credible information indicating Iranian cyber actors almost certainly were responsible for the creation” of the website, which carried death threats against U.S. election officials in mid-December.

The Washington Post reported the website primarily directed threats to U.S. election officials who have challenged President Donald Trump’s assertions of fraud in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Those reportedly targeted by the since deactivated website included FBI director Christopher Wray and former Department of Homeland Security official Christopher Krebs, among more than a dozen other officials, including various state election officials.

The website reportedly linked to the personal information and photographs of various public officials as well as individuals from private sector companies.

The website also directed attention to Dominion Voting Systems, which has also been the subject of various election fraud claims. A recent audit of Dominion’s election machines claims the company’s machines produced a 68 percent error rate in a single Michigan county, a state Trump won in the 2016 election but lost in 2020.

“The post-election creation of the Enemies of the People website demonstrates an ongoing Iranian intent to create divisions and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the U.S. electoral process,” the FBI stated. “The FBI and CISA have previously warned that Iranian cyber actors were likely intent on influencing and interfering with the 2020 U.S. elections.”

While the FBI and CISA linked the latest intimidation efforts to Iran, Joe Slowik, a senior security researcher at DomainTools, told the Washington Post that the creators of the Enemies of the People website used multiple domains, including several registered to Russia, Eastern Europe and even an address in Macon, Ga. associated with a local tax-preparers office.

The FBI also identified four email addresses linked to the Enemies of the People website, which sent various threatening emails:

An August U.S. intelligence report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) assessed “Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections.”

Iran also previously obtained U.S. voter information in an effort to intidimate U.S. voters and sow doubt about the election. In October, DNI John Ratcliffe said Iranian operatives attempted to impersonate members of the right-wing Proud Boys group, and sent intimidating messages to Democratic party voters.

Ratcliffe said the faked emails by Iran were meant to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”

Ratcliffe also said Iran was responsible for promoting a video claiming individuals could cast fraudulent ballots from overseas. “This video and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true,” he said at the time.