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Russian hackers, Iranian entities target U.S. ahead of election

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 10/23/20, 07:37 am

A Russian state-sponsored hacking team targeted dozens of local and state government networks and stole data from at least two servers since September, U.S. officials said late Thursday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency in an advisory said the hackers, known as DragonFly or Energetic Bear, also targeted aviation systems. They obtained user and administrator credentials to access and exfiltrate data from the networks. Also on Thursday, the Treasury Department sanctioned five Iranian entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, for trying to influence U.S. elections. Treasury officials say the Iranian entities have planned to use social media to spread disinformation to U.S. voters and to sow discord in the United States. 

How does this affect the election? Officials said there’s no evidence the Russian hackers disrupted any election, aviation, education, or government operations. “However, the actor may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies and actions, or to delegitimize [state and local] government entities,” the FBI and Homeland Security advisory warned. In the case of Iran, Treasury officials say the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute has served as a front company for Iranian propaganda effort since at least 2015 and had prepared influence operations for the 2020 election.

Dig deeper: Read Harvest Prude’s report in The Stew on issues with the FBI investigation into potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. —Onize Ohikere

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 10/23/2020 07:34 am

    Will World cover ongoing developments with the Biden's influence peddling?  More credible evidence is being presented.  I would have thought this to be newsworthy given it goes to the heart of Joe Biden's sales pitch about being a man of character?  

  • AW
    Posted: Fri, 10/23/2020 11:08 am

    Ms. Ohikere, please cease with the allegation of collusion between Russia and Trump.  This has been proven time and again not to be true.  Even the article you reference from Ms. Prude states collusion was disproven and yet, you phrased it as though there is still potential for the allegation. 

  • not silent
    Posted: Sun, 10/25/2020 10:14 pm

    I saw nothing in this article that alleged "collusion" between Russia and the Trump Campaign.  What I read in the article is consistent with government reports that I have also read: that there is significant evidence of Russian INTERFERENCE with the election in 2016 (i.e., attempts to hack into databases, to sow discord, and to undermine confidence in election results).  Although there is a general consensus in intelligence reports that one aim in this interference was to discredit Ms. Clinton and help Mr. Trump, they did NOT find evidence that this was done IN COLLUSION with the Trump Campaign.  

    I think this distinction is very important. If they had proven COLLUSION, that would mean that the Trump Campaign worked directly with a foreign government to influence the outcome of the election (which I would consider treason). But they did NOT find evidence of COLLUSION.  They DID find evidence of INTERFERENCE, which means that the Russians DID try to influence the results to favor Mr. Trump; but there's no evidence that the Trump Campaign was working WITH the Russians.  There's also no evidence that the Russians (or anyone else) actually changed any votes or directly affected the OUTCOME of the election.

    I don't think anyone can keep Russia or any other country from trying to "interfere" in our elections, but our officials have tried to keep that interference from changing the actual results of the election.  No system is perfect; but, from what I've read, a lot has been done to ensure the integrity of our voting system.  

    In a free society like ours, there is only so much that can be done to "protect" us from misinformation that may be used by foreign governments to sow discord, to influence attitudes and opinions, and to indermine confidence in the system as a whole. (I realize there are also DOMESTIC attempts to sow discord, influence attitudes, and undermine confidence in the system; but this article and my comment aren't intended to address those particular issues!)  As believers, we can be aware that these things exist; and we can guard our hearts and minds and pray for God to give us discernment.