Claims that voter information has been hacked likely meant to discredit electoral process, FBI says

Officials with the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned Monday that foreign actors and cyber criminals may attempt to spread false information online to undermine the integrity of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In an announcement, officials with the agencies said false and inconsistent information is being spread online in the run up to the November elections to influence public opinion, discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in democratic institutions.

“These malicious actors could use these forums to also spread disinformation suggesting successful cyber operations have compromised election infrastructure and facilitated the ‘hacking’ and ‘leaking’ of U.S. voter registration data,” the announcement said. “In reality, much U.S. voter information can be purchased or acquired through publicly available sources.”

Neither the FBI nor CISA have gotten information suggesting a cyberattack has compromised the election or stopped a registered voter from casting a ballot, officials said. The agencies urged Americans to “critically evaluate the sources of information they consume and to seek out reliable and verified information.”

Authorities issued the following recommendations to help Americans verify information they find online:

  • Seek out information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content and consider their intent.
  • Rely on state and local election officials for information about voter registration databases and voting systems.
  • View early, unverified claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.
  • Verify through multiple reliable sources any reports about compromises of voter information or voting systems, and consider searching for other reliable sources before sharing such information via social media or other avenues.
  • Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time or place of voting—to the FBI.
  • If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voter information or voting systems.

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