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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Cyberwarfare and Defense"

U.S. Warns Russia, China and Iran Are Trying to Interfere in the Election. Democrats Say It’s Far Worse.

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-intel-facebookJumbo U.S. Warns Russia, China and Iran Are Trying to Interfere in the Election. Democrats Say It’s Far Worse. Warner, Mark R Trump, Donald J Schumer, Charles E Schiff, Adam B Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2020 Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence Obama, Barack McCain, John Espionage and Intelligence Services Cyberwarfare and Defense Communist Party of China Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) absentee voting

American intelligence officials issued a public warning on Friday that China was “expanding its influence efforts” in the United States ahead of the presidential election, along with Russia and Iran, but Democrats briefed on the matter said the threat was far more urgent than what the administration described.

The warning came from William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement 100 days before Americans go to the polls. “We’re primarily concerned with China, Russia and Iran — although other nation-states and nonstate actors could also do harm to our electoral process,” the statement said.

The warning about China came at a moment of extraordinary tension between Beijing and Washington, only days after the United States indicted two Chinese hackers on charges of stealing intellectual property, including for the country’s main intelligence service, and evicted Chinese diplomats from their consulate in Houston.

The intelligence warning on Friday did not accuse the Chinese of trying to hack the vote; instead it said they were using their influence “to shape the policy environment in the United States” and to pressure politicians “it views as opposed to China’s interests.”

Russia, the warning said, was continuing to “spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” and it described Iran as an emerging actor in election interference, seeking to spread disinformation and “recirculating anti-U.S. content.”

The statement was short on details, reminiscent of the vague warnings that the director of national intelligence turned out starting in October 2016 that, in retrospect, failed to seize the attention of officials and voters before the last presidential election.

In a statement issued a few hours later, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was joined by the Senate Democratic leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, and two key Democrats on intelligence oversight committees, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, in saying that the descriptions of malign activity were “so generic as to be almost meaningless.”

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Updated 2020-07-25T01:46:31.732Z

Mr. Evanina’s statement, said the four Democrats, who earlier called on the F.B.I. to give a briefing on disinformation campaigns to the entire Congress, “does not go nearly far enough in arming the American people with the knowledge they need about how foreign powers are seeking to influence our political process.”

Their letter was particularly critical of the description of Russian activity, the most politically delicate topic because of President Trump’s own unwillingness to acknowledge Russia’s actions four years ago. The Democrats wrote that “to say without more, for example, that Russia seeks to denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’ in America is so generic as to be almost meaningless.”

Mr. Schiff, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday on MSNBC that he had been “urging Bill Evanina and others in the intelligence community to level with the American people about what’s going on.” He said the warning gave “a false sense of equivalence between what Russia is doing, what China is doing, what Iran is doing.”

Mr. Schiff and the other three authors of the letter have been briefed extensively on the intelligence, and thus are prohibited from violating classification rules by describing what they have seen.

But Mr. Schiff, a frequent target of harsh criticism from Mr. Trump because he was the Democrats’ manager in the impeachment trial in the Senate, added, “I think that our adversaries, in particular the Russians, are going to amplify the false messages that the president is putting out about, ‘Well, you can’t trust absentee ballots,’ even though that’s how the president votes.”

Some intelligence officials expressed surprise at the lawmakers’ letter and insisted they were not trying to play down the threat of interference from Moscow or signal that China was a greater challenge. They said Mr. Evanina’s statement was meant to be the beginning of a series of public statements, according to an official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The official said the statement did not play down the threat of Russian interference, but lawmakers had to understand that the 2020 contest would be different from 2016’s.

It is unclear whether those statements, however, deter further action by American adversaries. But it is clear that 2020 will not be the same as 2016 — the Russians know that they cannot use the same playbook, and Iran and China both seem poised to play a greater role.

The question is whether they will be on the same side, or working against each other.

After the 2016 election, American intelligence assessments concluded that the Russians ultimately intervened on Mr. Trump’s behalf. But this year, Republicans and Democrats who have reviewed the intelligence have come to different assessments about whether Russia hopes to swing the election to Mr. Trump, or if President Vladimir V. Putin is simply intent on eroding confidence in the American electoral system.

The threat of Iran to the election is harder to judge. Senior American officials said it was intent on trying to hurt Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign. Some believe Iran would stage attacks on oil shipping this fall, to try to cause economic calamity. But with the global economy already in turmoil from the pandemic, Iran’s room to try to influence the election through such attacks may be more limited.

China is not new to presidential elections. In 2008, intelligence officials warned the campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain that Chinese hackers had penetrated their campaign computer systems. But that was intelligence gathering, it appears, not an effort to influence the outcome in the way Russia tried eight years later.

This year, intelligence officials do not believe China will try the same kind of brazen techniques Moscow has employed. Instead, intelligence officials said Friday, China is playing a long game, trying to cultivate local politicians who may ultimately win election to Congress.

Mick Baccio, a former information security official with Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, said that with large numbers of absentee ballots and a potentially long counting period, foreign interference could intensify in November. As votes are being counted, foreign powers could seek to undermine confidence in the vote.

The 2020 election “is like every disaster movie sequel rolled into one,” said Mr. Baccio, now an adviser with the cybersecurity firm Splunk. “The postelection period is what I am most concerned about. The window of time where we are uncertain, that is when they will drop their madness.”

The intensified work by China, Russia, Iran and others provides a major challenge to the campaigns.

“Nothing is unhackable,” Mr. Baccio said. “You raise the bar as best you can. You identify your crown jewels of data and you lock it down the best you can.”

In recent weeks, intelligence officials have briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill about election interference threats from China, according to American officials.

Those classified briefings included warnings about how the Chinese government was trying to influence the broader political debate in the United States as well as in Congress.

F.B.I. and intelligence officials have warned lawmakers about China’s so-called mask diplomacy, in which Beijing’s diplomats have made donations of personal protective equipment useful to fight the coronavirus pandemic and have demanded support in return.

A Chinese diplomat had asked a Wisconsin state Republican lawmaker to pass a resolution lauding China’s work to fight the virus. The state senator refused and instead introduced a measure criticizing the Chinese Communist Party.

Until now, China has focused on local and congressional races and was less interested in influencing the presidential campaigns, officials said. Local influence campaigns are less likely to receive national attention, and are therefore more likely to succeed, officials said.

But those localized campaigns could influence national or presidential-level politics, current and former intelligence officials said. “Beijing recognizes its efforts might affect the presidential race,” Mr. Evanina wrote in his warning on Friday.

Beijing has been conducting cybersurveillance of the presidential campaigns and related political efforts, said an intelligence official, and it could decide in the coming weeks to expand its influence campaign to try to influence presidential politics more directly.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.K. Bans Huawei From 5G Network, Raising Tensions With China

Westlake Legal Group u-k-bans-huawei-from-5g-network-raising-tensions-with-china U.K. Bans Huawei From 5G Network, Raising Tensions With China United States International Relations United States Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Great Britain Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense China 5G (Wireless Communications)

LONDON — Britain announced on Tuesday that it would ban equipment from the Chinese technology giant Huawei from the country’s high-speed wireless network, a victory for the Trump administration and a reversal of an earlier decision that underscores how technology has taken center stage in the deepening divide between Western powers and China.

In January Britain said that Huawei equipment could be used in its new 5G network on a limited basis. But since then Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced growing political pressure domestically to take a harder line against Beijing, and in May the United States imposed new restrictions to disrupt Huawei’s access to important components.

Britain’s about-face signals a new willingness among Western countries to confront China, a determination that has grown firmer since Beijing last month adopted a sweeping new law to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, the semiautonomous city that was a British colony until 1997. On Tuesday, Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s national security adviser, was in Paris for meetings about China with counterparts from Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Huawei’s critics say its close ties to the Chinese government mean Beijing could use the equipment for espionage or to disrupt telecommunications — a point the company strongly disputes.

Arguing that Huawei created too much risk for such a critical, multibillion-dollar project, the government said Tuesday that it would bar the purchase of new Huawei equipment for 5G networks after December, and that existing gear already installed would need to be removed from the networks by 2027.

“As facts have changed, so has our approach,” Oliver Dowden, the government minister in charge of telecommunications, told the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the U.K.’s telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run.”

The dispute over Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, represents an early front in a new tech Cold War, with ramifications for internet freedom and surveillance, as well as emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics.

“The democratic West has woken up late to its over-dependence on a country whose values are diametrically opposed to it,” said Robert Hannigan, the former head of the British digital surveillance agency GCHQ, who is now an executive at the cybersecurity firm BlueVoyant. “Huawei and other Chinese companies present a real cybersecurity risk, but the primary threat comes from the intent of the Chinese Communist Party, as we see in Hong Kong.”

Huawei described Tuesday’s announcement as a disappointment and “bad news for anyone in the U.K. with a mobile phone.”

“It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane,,” said Ed Brewster, a spokesman for Huawei U.K. “Regrettably our future in the U.K. has become politicized; this is about U.S. trade policy and not security. ”

Until the latest turn of events, Britain had been welcoming. In 2005, it was the first country to offer Huawei a foothold in Europe, now the company’s largest market outside of China. Huawei financed university research and a charity started by Prince Charles. And just last month, Huawei announced plans to spend 1 billion pounds (about $1.25 billion) on a new research center in Cambridge.

The British experience shows the challenges nations face navigating the United States-China rift. In moving forward with the ban, Britain risks retaliation from China, one of its largest and fastest-growing trading partners, at a time when it is trying to craft a more open trade policy outside the European Union. China’s ambassador in London, Liu Xiaoming, recently warned that Britain would “bear the consequences” of treating China with hostility.

“The Huawei issue is the first of many complicated decisions we’re going to have about striking the right balance between our commercial and economic engagement with China, and our security concerns about how China uses its power,” said John Sawers, the former chief of the British intelligence service MI6.

Huawei is the leading provider for towers, masts and other critical equipment needed to build new wireless networks based on fifth-generation wireless technology, known as 5G.

New 5G networks are seen as essential infrastructure in an increasingly digital global economy. The networks will provide faster download speeds for average phone users, but offer even more important potential for commercial applications in industries such as manufacturing, health care and transportation.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_168094122_c9b26ed6-454f-4f12-b04a-21b9d790133e-articleLarge U.K. Bans Huawei From 5G Network, Raising Tensions With China United States International Relations United States Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Great Britain Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense China 5G (Wireless Communications)
Credit…Pool photo by Wpa

Huawei’s technological dominance in this field is increasingly viewed as a failure of industrial policy in the West. The American authorities have spent more than a year pressuring allies to keep Huawei out of communications networks, warning the company is a proxy for Beijing and a threat to national security. The Trump administration encouraged the use of other telecom equipment makers, including Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

At first, countries were resistant, unconvinced that Huawei posed a grave risk. Britain argued that it had a security system in place to ensure all Huawei equipment was reviewed before being put inside its communications networks. The announcement in January stipulated Huawei would be limited to “noncore” parts of the network.

A turning point came in May, when the Trump administration announced a rule that would bar Huawei and its suppliers from using American technology and software. The decision, slated to take effect in September, could throw Huawei’s supply chain into chaos.

In Britain, the American announcement added to pressure Mr. Johnson faced from members of his own Conservative Party to take a harder line against China, especially after the events in Hong Kong. The government announced a review of its January decision after the American punishments were announced.

“American sanctions left the U.K. with little choice,” said Priya Guha, a former British diplomat who represented the country’s interests in Silicon Valley. “There was a bit of checkmate by the U.S.”

Huawei spent the past several weeks lobbying against a ban, emphasizing its investments in Britain. Members of Huawei’s U.K. advisory board, made up of British business leaders including former BP chief executive John Browne, urged Mr. Johnson’s aides to take a more moderate approach. (A few hours before the government’s announcement on Tuesday, Huawei said Mr. Browne was leaving the board.)

British officials warned that its decision would add significant costs, and delay the rollout of 5G by around two years. The new 5G wireless systems must be built atop existing networks that Huawei had a major role in constructing. In setting a 2027 deadline, the British government said moving any faster to remove Huawei gear would produce a greater risk to the security and resilience of the network.

The ban does not apply to smartphones and other consumer products made by Huawei, or equipment used in 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

Many see the Huawei dispute as foreshadowing future conflicts, with other high-profile companies becoming entangled. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was considering actions against Chinese apps, including the hugely popular social media service TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese internet company.

Last week, the American tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google, all already blocked from the censored internet of mainland China, suspended the processing of Hong Kong government requests for user data because of a new national security law that mandates police censorship and digital surveillance. The new law could result in fines, equipment seizures or even arrests of company employees if the requests are denied.

Britain’s decision to ban Huawei will put pressure on other European countries. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is being urged to keep the company out of a new 5G network, but is weighing the economic fallout for German automakers, for whom China is a critical market. Australia has issued a ban, and Canada is considering one as well.

“If Huawei is stopped in its tracks, that does represent a very important inflection point for China’s ability to achieve its objectives,” said Nigel Inkster, a senior adviser at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London who has written a book on the technology battle between the United States and China. “That would be very consequential.”

Mr. Inkster, a former member of the British intelligence service, warned that the West risks provoking China if it feels more economically isolated. “There is a serious need to think hard and deeply about whether it is realistic to disengage from China totally in these areas,” he said.

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Trump’s New Russia Problem: Unread Intelligence and Missing Strategy

Westlake Legal Group 01dc-russia-assess-facebookJumbo Trump’s New Russia Problem: Unread Intelligence and Missing Strategy United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Taliban State Department Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Pompeo, Mike North Atlantic Treaty Organization Group of Eight Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense Cold War Era Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

The intelligence finding that Russia was most likely paying a bounty for the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan has evoked a strange silence from President Trump and his top national security officials.

He insists he never saw the intelligence, though it was part of the President’s Daily Brief just days before a peace deal was signed with the Taliban in February.

The White House says it was not even appropriate for him to be briefed because the president only sees “verified” intelligence — prompting derision from officials who have spent years working on the daily brief and say it is most valuable when filled with dissenting interpretations and alternative explanations.

But it doesn’t require a high-level clearance for the government’s most classified information to see that the list of Russian aggressions in recent weeks rivals some of the worst days of the Cold War.

There have been new cyberattacks on Americans working from home to exploit vulnerabilities in their corporate systems and continued concern about new playbooks for Russian actors seeking to influence the November election. Off the coast of Alaska, Russian jets have been testing American air defenses, sending U.S. warplanes scrambling to intercept them.

It is all part of what Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on Monday was “the latest in a series of escalations from Putin’s regime.”

Yet missing from all this is a strategy for pushing back — old-fashioned deterrence, to pluck a phrase from the depths of the Cold War — that could be employed from Afghanistan to Ukraine, from the deserts of Libya to the vulnerable voter registration rolls in battleground states.

Officially, in Mr. Trump’s national security strategy, Russia is described as a “revisionist power” whose efforts to peel away NATO allies and push the United States out of the Middle East have to be countered. But the paper strategy differs significantly from the reality.

There are at least two Russia strategies in this divided administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, usually so attuned to Mr. Trump, speaks for the hawkish wing: He came to the State Department podium a few weeks ago to declare that Crimea, annexed by Russia six years ago, will never be recognized as Russian territory.

Then there is the president, who “repeatedly objected to criticizing Russia and pressed us not to be so critical of Russia publicly,” his former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, notes in his recent memoir. A parade of other former national security aides have emerged, bruised, with similar reports.

Yet the nature of intelligence — always incomplete and not always definitive — gives Mr. Trump an opening to dismiss anything that challenges his worldview.

“By definition, intelligence means looking at pieces of a puzzle,” said Glenn S. Gerstell, who retired this year as the general counsel of the National Security Agency, before the Russian bounty issue was front and center. “It’s not unusual to have inconsistencies. And the President’s Daily Brief, not infrequently, would say that there is no unanimity in the intelligence community, and would explain the dissenting views or the lack of corroboration.”

That absence of clarity has not slowed Mr. Trump when it comes to placing new sanctions on China and Iran, who pose very different kinds of challenges to American power.

Yet the president made no apparent effort to sort through evidence on Russia, even before his most recent call with President Vladimir V. Putin, when he invited the Russian leader to a Group of 7 meeting planned for September in Washington. Russia has been banned from the group since the Crimea invasion, and Mr. Trump was essentially restoring it to the G8 over the objection of many of America’s closest allies.

The White House will not say whether he would have acted differently had he been aware of the Russian bounty for American lives.

“If you’re going to be on the phone with Vladimir Putin, this is something you ought to know,” said Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who managed the impeachment trial against Mr. Trump. “This is something you ought to know if you’re inviting Russia back into the G8.”

It is just the latest example of how, in Mr. Trump’s “America First” approach, he rarely talks about Russia strategy other than to say it would be good to be friends. He relies on his gut and talks about his “good relationship” with Mr. Putin, echoing a line he often uses about Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator.

So it is little surprise that after three and a half years, there is often hesitation to bring Mr. Trump damning intelligence about Russia.

And in this case, there was another element: concern inside the White House about any intelligence findings that might interfere with the administration’s announcement of a peace deal with the Taliban.

After months of broken-off negotiations, Mr. Trump was intent on announcing the accord in February, as a prelude to declaring that he was getting Americans out of Afghanistan. As one senior official described it, the evidence about Russia could have threatened that deal because it suggested that after 18 years of war, Mr. Trump was letting Russia chase the last American troops out of the country.

The warning to Mr. Trump appeared in the president’s briefing book — which Mr. Bolton said almost always went unread — in late February. On Feb. 28, the president issued a statement that a signing ceremony for the Afghan deal was imminent.

“When I ran for office,” Mr. Trump said in the statement, “I promised the American people I would begin to bring our troops home, and see to end this war. We are making substantial progress on that promise.”

He dispatched Mr. Pompeo to witness the signing with the Taliban. And as Mr. Trump noted in a tweet over the weekend, there have been no major attacks on American troops since. (Instead, the attacks have focused on Afghan troops and civilians.)

Russia’s complicity in the bounty plot came into sharper focus on Tuesday as The New York Times reported that American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, according to officials familiar with the intelligence.

The United States has accused Russia of providing general support to the Taliban before. But the newly revealed information about financial transfers bolstered other evidence of the plot, including detainee interrogations, and helped reduce an earlier disagreement among intelligence analysts and agencies over the reliability of the detainees.

Lawmakers on Tuesday emerged from closed briefings on the matter to challenge why Mr. Trump and his advisers failed to recognize the seriousness of the intelligence assessment.

“I’m concerned they didn’t pursue it as aggressively or comprehensively as they should have,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who heads the House Armed Services Committee. “Clearly there was evidence that Russia was paying the bounties.”

The oddity, of course, is that despite Mr. Trump’s deference to the Russians, relations between Moscow and Washington under the Trump administration have nose-dived.

That was clear in the stiff sentence handed down recently in Moscow against Paul N. Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, after his conviction on espionage charges in what the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John J. Sullivan, called a “mockery of justice.”

Even Russian state television now regularly mocks Mr. Trump as a buffoon, very different from its gushing tone during the 2016 presidential election.

Andrew Higgins contributed reporting.

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Amid Pandemic and Upheaval, New Cyber Risks to the Presidential Election

With the general election less than 150 days away, there are rising concerns that the push for remote voting prompted by the pandemic could open new opportunities to hack the vote — for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but also others hoping to disrupt, influence or profit from the election.

President Trump has repeatedly said that mail-in ballots invite voter fraud and would benefit Democrats. It is a baseless claim: Mail-in voting has resulted in little fraud in the five states that have used it for years, and a recent study at Stanford University found that voting by mail did not advantage either party and might increase voter turnout for both parties.

But there are different worries. The rush to accommodate remote voting is leading a small number of states to experiment with or expand online voting, an approach the Department of Homeland Security deemed “high risk” in a report last month. It has also put renewed focus on the assortment of online state voter registration systems, which were among the chief targets of Russian hackers in 2016. Their security is central to ensuring that, come November, voters actually receive their mail-in ballots or can gain access to online voting.

While Russian hackers stopped short of manipulating voter data in 2016, American officials determined the effort was likely a dry run for future interference. To head off that threat, last summer the Department of Homeland Security hired the RAND Corporation to re-evaluate the nation’s election vulnerabilities, from poll booths to the voter registration systems. RAND’s findings only heightened the longstanding fears of government officials: State and local registration databases could be locked by hackers demanding ransomware or manipulated by outside actors.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 07cybervote2-articleLarge Amid Pandemic and Upheaval, New Cyber Risks to the Presidential Election Voter Registration and Requirements Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 elections Cyberwarfare and Defense Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Computers and the Internet absentee voting
Credit…Pool photo by Tom Williams

Homeland Security officials have been focusing “intensely on hardening registration systems,” said Christopher C. Krebs, who leads the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He said his teams had been working to make sure that towns, counties and states patch software vulnerabilities, back up their systems and also have paper printouts of poll books — the registration lists used on Election Day — should criminals or adversary nations render the digital versions inaccessible.

Now the problem has grown more complex as states around the country race to accommodate mail-in voting even for those who are not away from home. And courts are intervening with contradictory rulings, many of which are being appealed, adding to the sense of chaos and uncertainty about what procedures will be used on Nov. 3.

Mr. Krebs’s agency is also concerned about vulnerabilities surrounding internet voting that Delaware, West Virginia and other states are using. In May, it issued a confidential report to voting vendors and election officials in all 50 states opposing online voting, warning that ballots “could be manipulated at scale,” meaning hackers could change large volumes of votes undetected.

Separately, researchers at the University of Michigan and M.I.T. released a study on Sunday concluding that one platform already facilitating internet and remote voting could, in certain cases, be manipulated to alter votes — without being detected by the voter, election officials or the company that owns it.

The platform, called OmniBallot, was used for internet voting in Delaware’s primary last week and will be used to a smaller extent in West Virginia’s this week. Both states also plan to use it in some form come November, as does Colorado. (New Jersey quietly used it experimentally last month in local elections.)

Various jurisdictions in Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Ohio and Washington also use the platform as a way for voters to mark ballots remotely and submit them by email, fax or mail.

The researchers discovered that both uses of the system presented opportunities for hackers or nation states to compromise an election.

“Online voting raises such severe risks that, even in a time of unrest and pandemic, these jurisdictions are taking a major risk of undermining the legitimacy of their election results,” said one of the researchers, J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at Michigan.

Bryan Finney, chief executive of Democracy Live, which offers OmniBallot, defended the platform, saying that before the pandemic it primarily served voters with disabilities and American service members overseas. “No technology is bulletproof,” he said. “But we need to be able to enfranchise the disenfranchised.”

Mail-in ballots, like the one President Trump used to vote in Florida’s primary in March, also depend on the safety and security of state and federal registration systems. Before the pandemic, officials were mainly focused on securing voting machines and databases, and putting new audit controls in place.

But now the virus has forced states to overhaul their plans to accommodate an expected deluge of the ballots, and nearly every state not blocked by a legal or legislative challenge is racing to expand vote-by-mail for November.

In Texas, the state Supreme Court blocked the expansion of mail-in ballots last month. On Thursday, Ohio lawmakers approved a Republican bill that makes voting by mail more difficult, removing prepaid postage and cutting in half the time to request an absentee ballot. And in Tennessee, the Republican secretary of state pledged to fight a court ruling Thursday that would allow voting by mail across the state.

Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Many election officials are now struggling to ensure ballots are mailed and returned securely. In 31 states, voter signatures must be verified. In the past, this task was performed by trained specialists, but larger counties are increasingly relying on signature-verification software that security experts fear could be exploited to disenfranchise voters.

The threat of foreign interference remains real. American officials have repeatedly warned that Russia is once again meddling in the presidential election. Last month, the National Security Agency warned that Russian state hackers had targeted an email program used by dozens of congressional candidates to steal emails, as Russian hackers also did four years ago.

On Thursday, Google said Chinese hackers were targeting the personal email accounts of campaign staff members working for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. It also confirmed reports that Iran had targeted Mr. Trump’s campaign.

But the White House, where Mr. Trump continues to dismiss the hacking accusations against Russia in the last election, has directed little attention to the problems beyond the president’s unfounded claims that mail-in ballots favor Democrats and “will lead to massive fraud and abuse.” (In fact, mail-in ballots create a paper trail that helps prevent abuse.)

Even the perception of vulnerabilities could have a profound impact on the actual vote, security specialists warn. It could raise doubts about the election’s integrity, at a moment when Mr. Trump’s critics allege he is already preparing the ground to challenge the result if he loses.

In a reference last month to a California congressional election, the president warned without offering any evidence that “it’s all rigged out there,” an assertion he also made when campaigning in 2016.

Mr. Biden, who advocates remote voting because of the virus’s health risks, has suggested Mr. Trump is sowing uncertainty because he may try to delay the election. And other Democrats have raised the possibility that Mr. Trump would not accept the results if he were to lose in November.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Robert O’Brien, the president’s national security adviser, dismissed those concerns last week on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Elections are going to take place on Election Day, there is no question,” he said, insisting that “we have a very strong infrastructure” at the White House on election security, including “the ballots, the voting machines, the secretary of state websites,” where registration data is held.

Harri Hursti, an election security expert who consults with states and counties across the country, said, “Elections are not really about the winners.” He added, “They are about conducting elections in such a way that the losers accept that the result is fair.”

It was four years ago this month when officials in Arizona discovered that election officials’ passwords had been stolen, one of the first indications that the 2016 election was under cyberattack.

Studies led by the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. later said that Russia had most likely conducted research and reconnaissance against election networks in all 50 states.

The integrity of the November election hinges on the same registration systems, which are “public-facing” — connected to the internet and accessible to a wide variety of state and county officials and often the companies they hire to run their election systems. But that access also leaves them open to potential attack.

A well-known threat comes from ransomware, when an invasion of a computer system locks up records, making them inaccessible. Atlanta and Baltimore have been hit by devastating attacks that made it impossible to pay parking tickets or record deeds, and towns from Florida to Texas have also been paralyzed with ransomware.

For elections, there is a separate concern that hackers, short of shutting down a system, could undermine the integrity of voter information.

If hackers slip into voter registration lists and modify addresses, or falsely indicate that voters moved out of state, the result could be digital disenfranchisement. Even just getting into the lists — without manipulating them — hackers could seed doubts of tampering. That may explain why Russian hackers made a show of stealing Illinois voter data in 2016, according to D.H.S. officials, even though they didn’t tamper with it.

“As we looked out across the country and saw ransomware running wild across state and local government agencies, it was reasonable to conclude that voter registration databases, highly networked and highly centralized, could be next,” said Mr. Krebs, the Homeland Security cyber chief. States have “stepped up” over the past year, he added.

Indeed, security is now better across the country, but voter registration data is still vulnerable and accessible to the outside world.

Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Some states and counties manage their registration systems internally, but many rely on a maze of private contractors that can be ripe targets. The firms retrieve the data over the internet and keep it in the cloud, often with limited security. In 2016, one contractor, VR Systems, was targeted by Russian hackers, according to aclassified assessment by the National Security Agency. The company, which has long maintained that any attacks were unsuccessful, had access to registration data in swing states like North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.

“Most people don’t realize how many times registration systems are accessed by vendors and parties with little security,” said Mr. Hursti, the security consultant. “The justification for this is that it is public data, so nobody can steal it, but that ignores how dangerous it would be if someone modifies it.”

The problem was illustrated in two states in recent weeks.

Two thousand voters in Pennsylvania received the wrong ballots for the state’s June 2 primary because of an error at a company that mails ballots for Montgomery County. And in New Jersey, a software malfunction delayed ballots to military and overseas voters for that state’s primary in July.

Election officials and vendors in both states caught the glitches, but security experts warn that malicious hackers could exploit such lapses in November.

The transparency of the information helps authorities catch bad actors, but “the vulnerabilities are real,” said Eric Rosenbach, who runs Harvard’s Defending Digital Democracy project, which is working with election officials to secure voting.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the advantages of online voting were obvious for Americans with disabilities, those living abroad, military personnel posted to remote locations — even Alaskans living in the wilderness.

But the risks were made vivid a decade ago in Washington. An online voting experiment was called off after researchers hacked the system to elect HAL 9000 — the computer from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” — and played the University of Michigan fight song every time a ballot was cast.

The experimenting is back, but once again it is not going well. New Jersey is a case in point.

In April, with the virus sweeping the state, officials moved quickly to expand mail-in voting. But they also decided to explore online voting by hiring Democracy Live, whose OmniBallot system was identified by Michigan and M.I.T. researchers as vulnerable to undetected hacking.

New Jersey officials made the online voting available to county clerks for municipal and school board elections last month, but did not publicize it widely for fear of inviting trouble.

“We didn’t want to put out an explanation for potential bad guys to decide that this was something they wanted to exploit,” said Alicia D’Alessandro, spokeswoman for New Jersey’s secretary of state.

The result: Just one voter used the online system. The cost to the state: $89,000, and still no real test of whether it works or not.

New Jersey will not repeat the experiment for its July primary, and has not yet decided what it will do in November, officials said. A lawsuit is attempting to block further online voting in the state, claiming it is susceptible to hackers.

Delaware, also citing the pandemic, recently announced it would make online voting available to voters who were sick or in quarantine. And West Virginia said it would allow online voting by some residents with disabilities, military personnel and overseas residents, as it has since 2018. And in emergency cases, Colorado will allow some voters to submit ballots electronically, it announced last week.

Like New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Colorado have contracted with Democracy Live.

Mr. Halderman of Michigan and Michael A. Specter, a researcher at M.I.T., determined that Democracy Live’s online voting and ballot-marking systems could not withstand concerted hacking attempts, and also presented privacy concerns.

The researchers reported that ballots could be manipulated to change votes and that, in some cases, the company’s servers received voters’ identifying information.

“Democracy Live is getting a database of how every single voter voted,” Mr. Specter said. “What if that ends up in bad hands?”

The report concluded that while OmniBallot’s mail-in option was reasonably secure, the online options represented “a high risk to election integrity and could allow attackers to alter election results without detection.”

Mr. Finney, the Democracy Live executive, said the company never shares or sells voter data. He also said voters concerned with online security always have the option to print and mail their ballots, something Mr. Halderman recommended as prudent.

Mr. Finney said Democracy Live’s security had been previously vetted in two reviews he could not share publicly and noted that OmniBallot had been used in over 1,000 elections over the past decade, without security issues.

Earlier this year, a team of researchers from M.I.T., including Mr. Specter, found similar problems with Voatz, another app-based voting platform. Voatz insists its system is secure.

Warnings about turning to online voting too quickly have also come from countries that use it successfully. Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia’s president, noted last month that her country had moved to electronic ballots only after an ambitious project — known as E-Estonia — to secure 1.3 million Estonians’ digital identities.

“You need to make sure you have perfect understanding of everyone’s identity first,” she said.

No such system exists in any American state. So election officials, faced with the pandemic and an immutable general election date, are trying to make do.

In New Jersey, before the pandemic, “we ran drills on all different kinds of scenarios that could disrupt our election,” said Ms. D’Alessandro.

“We even had a scenario that dealt with a public health crisis,” she continued. “But I can tell you that simulating a measles outbreak in two towns does not prepare you for a global pandemic.”

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Trump to Withdraw U.S. From ‘Open Skies’ Treaty

President Trump has decided to withdraw from another major arms control accord, he and other officials said Thursday, and will inform Russia that the United States is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, negotiated three decades ago to allow nations to fly over each other’s territory with elaborate sensor equipment to assure that they are not preparing for military action.

Mr. Trump’s decision may be viewed as more evidence that he is preparing to exit the one major arms treaty remaining with Russia: New START, which limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each. It expires in February, weeks after the next presidential inauguration, and Mr. Trump has insisted that China must join what is now a U.S.-Russia limit on nuclear arsenals.

Even as the administration disclosed Mr. Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Open Skies agreement, the president held out the possibility of negotiations with the Russians that could save American participation in the accord.

“There’s a chance we may make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,” he said outside the White House. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to pull out and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal.”

That seems unlikely, even his own aides said. Yet at the same time, his newly appointed arms negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, said the administration planned to hold detailed conversations with the Russians over the future of New START. But the Chinese do not appear to be participating in that first meeting, even though Mr. Billingslea insisted that he was “confident” they would ultimately join.

So far, though, the Chinese have indicated no interest in limitations on their own nuclear arsenal, which is about a fifth of the size of the United States’ and Russia’s, and some critics of the administration’s approach say the insistence on Beijing’s participation is a poison pill to scuttle the treaty.

American officials have long complained that Moscow was violating the Open Skies accord by not permitting flights over a city where it was believed Russia was deploying nuclear weapons that could reach Europe, as well as forbidding flights over major Russian military exercises. (Satellites, the main source for gathering intelligence, are not affected by the treaty.)

“You reach a point at which you need to say enough is enough,” Mr. Billingslea said. “The United States cannot keep participating in this treaty if Russia is going to violate it with impunity.”

American officials also note that Mr. Trump was angered by a Russian flight directly over his Bedminster, N.J., golf estate in 2017. And in classified reports, the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies have contended that the Russians are also using flights over the United States to map out critical American infrastructure that could be hit by conventional weapons or cyberattacks.

William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement that the surveys of such civilian targets were “posing an unacceptable risk to our national security.”

But such collection was not prohibited under the treaty and much of the information is now publicly available on Google Earth and from commercial imagery.

Mr. Trump’s decision, rumored for some time, is bound to further aggravate European allies, including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who are also signatories to the treaty.

They are likely to remain in the accord, which has nearly three dozen signatories, but have warned that with Washington’s exit, Russia will almost certainly respond by also cutting off their flights, which the allies use to monitor troop movements on their borders — especially important to the Baltic nations.

For Mr. Trump, the decision is the third time he has renounced a major arms control treaty.

Two years ago, he abandoned the Iran nuclear accord negotiated by President Barack Obama. Last year he left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, again saying that he would not participate in a treaty that he said Russia was violating. When he announced his intention to withdraw, he said, as he did today, that he thought the Russians would seek a new deal; they did not.

The Open Skies Treaty was negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

At the time — a moment of relative warmth between the two countries that proved fleeting — the idea was to reduce the chances of accidental war by making troop movements and the placement of new missiles and armaments evident. It was hardly a new idea: It was first presented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the summer of 1955 and rejected by Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, as an elaborate plan to spy on a weaker foe.

Video

transcript

Eisenhower Describes Treaty on Open Skies

Archival footage of President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposing that the United States and the Soviet Union conduct surveillance of each other’s territory as a defense against a surprise attack.

Announcer: “At his White House press conference, the president’s comments on the Power’s spy case and on America’s foreign intelligence activities.” “No one wants another Pearl Harbor. This means that we must have knowledge of military forces and preparations around the world, especially those capable of massive surprise attack. Secrecy in the Soviet Union makes this essential. In most of the world, no large-scale attack could be prepared in secret. But in the Soviet Union, there is a fetish of secrecy and concealment. This is a major cause of international tension and uneasiness, today. Our deterrence must never be placed in jeopardy. The safety of the whole free world demands this. We prefer and work for a different kind of world, and a different way of obtaining the information essential to competence and effective deterrence. Open societies in the day of present weapons are the only answer. This was the reason for my Open Skies proposal in 1955 which I was ready, yes indeed, to put into effect to permit aerial observation over the United States and the Soviet Union, which would assure that no surprise attack was being prepared against anyone. I shall bring up the Open Skies proposal again at Paris. It is a means of ending concealment.”

Westlake Legal Group 21vid-eisenhower-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Trump to Withdraw U.S. From ‘Open Skies’ Treaty United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Nuclear Weapons Defense and Military Forces Cyberwarfare and Defense China Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament
Archival footage of President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposing that the United States and the Soviet Union conduct surveillance of each other’s territory as a defense against a surprise attack.CreditCredit…Associated Press

It now has less relevance than it did then or even when it finally went into effect, in 2002, a decade after it was signed. Modern commercial satellite photography is widely and cheaply available, though it cannot replace all the information available through an airplane’s sensors.

“The concept of Open Skies, starting with President Eisenhower, was to give insight and build confidence related to military intentions, among other things,” Mr. Billingslea, a veteran of the George W. Bush Pentagon and considered a hard-liner on Russia, said in an interview. “But it no longer is serving that purpose because of so many Russian violations.”

He cited Russian moves to make it impossible for the United States to send flights over Kaliningrad, Georgia and Russia’s own large military exercises.

Nonetheless, European nations regard the regular flights — conducted by the United States, Britain and smaller powers — as an important continuing engagement with Russia, even if Moscow has increasingly blocked flight plans that seem permissible under the treaty.

Russia has said that the engagement in the treaty is valuable. Mr. Billingslea and his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, disagree.

Representative Eliot L. Engel, the New York Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Mr. Trump’s move illegal, noting that the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requires that the president give Congress 120 days’ notice before beginning the withdrawal process. Mr. Trump signed that act.

“There is something particularly dangerous about a president, a secretary of state and a secretary of defense knowingly breaking the law in ways that jeopardize our safety and national security,” Mr. Engel said in a statement. “With this decision, that is exactly what they’ve chosen to do.”

Under the terms of the treaty, Mr. Trump’s formal notice to Russia and the other signatories starts a six-month clock toward final withdrawal. It requires a meeting of all the signatories within 60 days.

To the extent that foreign policy becomes an issue in the presidential campaign, the withdrawal from this treaty, along with the previous two, could become a debating point. On Monday, Antony J. Blinken, the top foreign policy adviser to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said that “I would be very much in favor of staying engaged in Open Skies.”

Conservatives have been pressing Mr. Trump to withdraw for some time, despite his own periodic musings about his friendship with President Vladimir V. Putin, which he repeated on Thursday. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a longtime proponent of withdrawal, said in a statement, “It was long past time for the United States to withdraw from this treaty and stop allowing Russia to use our skies to spy on the American people.”

But that was the entire premise of the Eisenhower plan: that the “spying” would, in fact, build confidence that neither side was preparing for military action. The treaty was imagined as a way to verify the movement and exercises of conventional forces, though it also played some role in tracking the movement of tactical nuclear weapons as the Russians placed more aimed at targets in Western Europe.

“The transparency it provides has helped prevent miscalculation and misunderstandings that could have otherwise led to conflict,” said John F. Tierney, a former Democratic representative from Massachusetts who is the executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “This has become a reckless pattern” for the Trump administration.

Open Skies is a comparatively small treaty; the bigger issue will be the fate of New START.

For more than a year, Mr. Trump has said he would not renew the New START treaty, negotiated by Mr. Obama in 2010, unless China also joined. Beijing has rejected the idea. And it is unclear how that might work even if China agreed to enter the treaty. With 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons each, the United States and Russia would never be willing to reduce their arsenals to the 300 or so held by China. And allowing China to build up to American and Russian levels seems to defeat the purpose of arms control.

Mr. Pompeo has suggested that not all nuclear powers need to have the same number of nuclear weapons. But the idea that China would willingly agree to a small arsenal, especially at a moment of great tension with the United States, seems hard to imagine.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday afternoon, Mr. Billingslea said that he and his Russian counterparts had agreed to meet on the future of the New START treaty, and that the United States would insist that any negotiations include the Chinese. He said he was confident the Chinese would participate.

“The Chinese have an obligation to negotiate with us in good faith,” he said. “We also know they want to be treated as a great power, and what better way to do so” than entering into negotiations with Moscow and Washington.

“We will have to have very tough verification measures” for any new accord, he said.

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U.S. to Accuse China of Trying to Hack Vaccine Data, as Virus Redirects Cyberattacks

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. The efforts are part of a surge in cybertheft and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic.

The warning comes as Israeli officials accuse Iran of mounting an effort in late April to cripple water supplies as Israelis were confined to their houses, though the government has offered no evidence to back its claim. More than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses. Even American allies like South Korea and nations that do not typically stand out for their cyberabilities, like Vietnam, have suddenly redirected their state-run hackers to focus on virus-related information, according to private security firms.

A draft of the forthcoming public warning, which officials say is likely to be issued in the days to come, says China is seeking “valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing.” It focuses on cybertheft and action by “nontraditional actors,” a euphemism for researchers and students the Trump administration says are being activated to steal data from inside academic and private laboratories.

The decision to issue a specific accusation against China’s state-run hacking teams, current and former officials said, is part of a broader deterrent strategy that also involves United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency. Under legal authorities that President Trump issued nearly two years ago, they have the power to bore deeply into Chinese and other networks to mount proportional counterattacks. This would be similar to their effort 18 months ago to strike at Russian intelligence groups seeking to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections and to put malware in the Russian power grid as a warning to Moscow for its attacks on American utilities.

But it is unclear exactly what the U.S. has done, if anything, to send a similar shot across the bow to the Chinese hacking groups, including those most closely tied to China’s new Strategic Support Force, its equivalent of Cyber Command, the Ministry of State Security and other intelligence units.

The forthcoming warning is also the latest iteration of a series of efforts by the Trump administration to blame China for being the source of the pandemic and exploiting its aftermath.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed this month that there was “enormous evidence” that the virus had come from a Chinese lab before backing off to say it had come from the “vicinity” of the lab in Wuhan. United States intelligence agencies say they have reached no conclusion on the issue, but public evidence points to a link between the outbreak’s origins at a market in Wuhan and China’s illegal wildlife trafficking.

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The State Department on Friday described a Chinese Twitter campaign to push false narratives and propaganda about the virus. Twitter executives have pushed back on the agency, noting that some of the Twitter accounts that the State Department cited were actually critical of Chinese state narratives.

But it is the search for vaccines that has been a particular focus, federal officials say.

“China’s long history of bad behavior in cyberspace is well documented, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone they are going after the critical organizations involved in the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He added that the agency would “defend our interests aggressively.”

Last week, the United States and Britain issued a joint warning that “health care bodies, pharmaceutical companies, academia, medical research organizations and local governments” had been targeted. While it named no specific countries — or targets — the wording was the kind used to describe the most active cyberoperators: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

The hunt for spies seeking intellectual property has also accelerated. For months, F.B.I. officials have been visiting major universities and presenting largely unclassified briefings about their vulnerabilities.

But some of those academic leaders and student groups have pushed back, comparing the rising paranoia about stolen research to the worst days of the Red Scare era. They particularly objected when Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, declared last month on Fox News that it was “a scandal” that the United States had “trained so many of the Chinese Communist Party’s brightest minds to go back to China.”

Security experts say that while there is a surge of attacks by Chinese hackers seeking an edge in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, or even effective treatment, the Chinese are hardly alone in seeking to exploit the virus.

Iranian hackers were also caught trying to get inside Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, the therapeutic drug approved 10 days ago by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials. Government officials and Gilead have refused to say if any element of the attack, which was first reported by Reuters, was successful.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172271916_02c910f3-90b1-492e-937d-34a8a3a4f8d0-articleLarge U.S. to Accuse China of Trying to Hack Vaccine Data, as Virus Redirects Cyberattacks United States Politics and Government United States International Relations South Korea National Security Agency Medicine and Health Israel Iran Homeland Security Department Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Cyberwarfare and Defense Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Computers and the Internet Computer Security China
Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

Israel’s security advisers met last week for a classified session on a cyberattack on April 24 and 25, which the authorities were calling an attempt to cut off water supplies to rural parts of the country. The Israeli news media has widely blamed the attack on Iran, though they have offered no evidence in public. The effort was detected fairly quickly and did no damage, the authorities said.

The rush to attribute the attack to Iran could be faulty. When a Saudi petrochemical plant was similarly attacked in 2017, Iran was presumed as the source of the effort to cause an industrial accident. It turned out to be coordinated from a Russian scientific institute.

The coronavirus has created whole new classes of targets. In recent weeks, Vietnamese hackers have directed their campaigns against Chinese government officials running point on the virus, according to cybersecurity experts.

South Korean hackers have taken aim at the World Health Organization and officials in North Korea, Japan and the United States. The attacks appeared to be attempts to compromise email accounts, most likely as part of a broad effort to gather intelligence on virus containment and treatment, according to two security experts for private firms who said they were not authorized to speak publicly. If so, the moves suggest that even allies are suspicious of official government accounting of cases and deaths around the world.

In interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and cybersecurity experts over the past month, many described a “free-for-all” that has spread even to countries with only rudimentary cyberability.

“This is a global pandemic, but unfortunately countries are not treating it as a global problem,” said Justin Fier, a former national security intelligence analyst who is now the director of cyberintelligence at Darktrace, a cybersecurity firm. “Everyone is conducting widespread intelligence gathering — on pharmaceutical research, PPE orders, response — to see who is making progress.”

The frequency of cyberattacks and the spectrum of targets are “astronomical, off the charts,” Mr. Fier said.

Even before the pandemic, the United States was becoming far more aggressive in pursuing cases involved suspected Chinese efforts to steal intellectual property related to biological research. The Justice Department announced in January that it had charged Charles M. Lieber, the chairman of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, with making false statements related to his participation in China’s Thousand Talents program to recruit scientific talent to the country.

But Harvard also has a joint study program underway with a Chinese institute on coronavirus treatments and vaccines. And researchers have said that international cooperation will be vital if there is hope for a global vaccine, putting the expected national competitions to be first in tension with the need for a cooperative effort.

At Google, security researchers identified more than a dozen nation-state hacking groups using virus-related emails to break into corporate networks, including some sent to U.S. government employees. Google did not identify the specific countries involved, but over the past eight weeks, several nation states — some familiar, like Iran and China, and others not so familiar, like Vietnam and South Korea — have taken advantage of softer security as millions of workers have suddenly been forced to work from home.

“The nature of the vulnerabilities and attacks has altered pretty radically with shelter-in-place,” said Casey Ellis, the founder of Bugcrowd, a security firm. In some cases, Mr. Ellis said, hackers were just “kicking a baby,” hacking hospitals that were already overstretched and simply lacked the resources to prioritize cybersecurity.

In other cases, they were targeting the tools that workers used to remotely access internal networks and encrypted virtual private networks, or VPNs, that allow employees to tunnel into corporate networks, to gain access to proprietary information.

“Governments that might otherwise be reluctant to target international public health organizations, hospitals and commercial organizations are crossing that line because there is such a thirst for knowledge and information,” said John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a cybersecurity firm.

Even Nigerian cybercriminals are getting in on the game: They recently started targeting businesses with coronavirus-themed email attacks to try to convince targets to wire them money, or to steal personal data that could fetch money on the dark web.

“These are not complex, but clever social engineering is getting them through,” said Jen Miller-Osborn, the deputy director of threat intelligence at Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity company. Because Nigerian hackers are less skilled, they lack the so-called “op sec,” or operational security, to cover their tracks.

David E. Sanger reported from Washington and Nicole Perlroth from Palo Alto, Calif.

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Facebook, Google and Twitter Struggle to Handle November’s Election

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SAN FRANCISCO — The day after the New Hampshire primary last month, Facebook’s security team removed a network of fake accounts that originated in Iran, which had posted divisive partisan messages about the U.S. election inside private Facebook groups.

Hours later, the social network learned the campaign of Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, had sidestepped its political ad process by directly paying Instagram meme accounts to post in support of his presidential bid.

That same day, a pro-Trump group called the Committee to Defend the President, which had previously run misleading Facebook ads, was found to be promoting a photo that falsely claimed to show Bernie Sanders supporters holding signs with divisive slogans such as “Illegal Aliens Deserve the Same as Our Veterans.”

Facebook, Twitter, Google and other big tech companies have spent the past three years working to avoid a repeat of 2016, when their platforms were overrun by Russian trolls and used to amplify America’s partisan divide. The internet giants have since collectively spent billions of dollars hiring staff, fortifying their systems and developing new policies to prevent election meddling.

But as the events of just one day — Feb. 12 — at Facebook showed, although the companies are better equipped to deal with the types of interference they faced in 2016, they are struggling to handle the new challenges of 2020.

Their difficulties reflect how much online threats have evolved since the 2016 election. Russia and other foreign governments once conducted online influence operations in plain sight, buying Facebook ads in rubles and tweeting in broken English, but they are now using more sophisticated tactics such as bots that are nearly impossible to distinguish from hyperpartisan Americans.

More problematic, partisan groups in the United States have borrowed Russia’s 2016 playbook to create their own propaganda and disinformation campaigns, forcing the tech companies to make tough calls about restricting the speech of American citizens. Even well-funded presidential campaigns have pushed the limits of what the platforms will allow.

“They’ve built defenses for past battles, but are they prepared for the next front in the war?” Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a think tank that works to counter foreign interference campaigns, said of the tech companies. “Anytime you’re dealing with a sophisticated actor, they’re going to evolve their tactics as you evolve your defenses.”

By most accounts, the big tech companies have gotten better at stopping certain types of election meddling, such as foreign trolling operations and posts containing inaccurate voting information. But they are reluctant to referee other kinds of social media electioneering for fear of appearing to tip the scales. And their policies, often created hastily while under pressure, have proved confusing and inadequate.

Adding to the companies’ troubles is the coronavirus pandemic, which is straining their technical infrastructure, unleashing a new misinformation wave and forcing their employees to coordinate a vast election effort spanning multiple teams and government agencies from their homes.

In interviews with two dozen executives and employees at Facebook, Google and Twitter over the past few months, many described a tense atmosphere of careening from crisis to crisis to handle the newest tactics being used to sow discord and influence votes. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss sensitive internal issues.

Some Facebook and Google employees said they feared being blamed by Democrats for a Trump re-election, while others said they did not want to be seen as acting in Democrats’ favor. Privately, some said, the best-case scenario for them in November would be a landslide victory by either party, with a margin too large to be pinned on any one tech platform.

Google declined to speak publicly for this article. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the threats of 2016 were less effective now but “we’ve seen threat actors evolving and getting better.” Twitter also said the threats were a game of “cat and mouse.”

“We’re constantly trying to stay one step ahead,” said Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, ordered a “lockdown” for hundreds of employees late last year.

A lockdown is Facebook-speak for a period of intense, focused effort on a high-priority project. The workers, who included engineers and policy employees, were ordered to drop other projects and build tools to prevent interference in the 2020 election, said two people with knowledge of the instructions.

For Mr. Zuckerberg, who once delegated the messy business of politics to his lieutenants, November’s election has become a personal fixation. In 2017, after the extent of Russia’s manipulation of the social network became clear, he vowed to prevent it from happening again.

“We won’t catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere,” he said.

Facebook has since required anyone running U.S. political ads to submit proof of an American mailing address, and included their ads in a publicly searchable database. It has invested billions to moderate content, drawn up new policies against misinformation and manipulated media, and hired tens of thousands of safety and security workers.

In the 2018 midterm elections, those efforts resulted in a relatively scandal-free Election Day. But 2020 is presenting different challenges.

Last year, lawmakers blasted Mr. Zuckerberg for refusing to fact-check Facebook posts or take down false ads placed by political candidates; he said it would be an affront to free speech. The laissez-faire approach has been embraced by some Republicans, including President Trump, but has made Facebook unpopular among Democrats and civil rights groups.

Still, Facebook’s rank-and-file workers are cautiously optimistic. In late January, just before the Iowa caucuses, a group of employees gathered at the company’s headquarters for a party to celebrate the end of the lockdown.

For hours, they ate, drank, and watched a talent show featuring employee-led musical acts and improv comedy sketches. An Iowa state flag hung on the wall.

At one point, said two people who attended, a surprise guest entered: Mr. Zuckerberg, who stopped by to thank the team for its work.

Just after noon last Oct. 30, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, posted a string of 11 tweets to announce he was banning all political ads from the service.

“Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” he wrote.

His zero-tolerance move was one action that Twitter and companies like Google have taken to stave off another election crisis — or at least to distance themselves from the partisan fray.

Over the past year, Twitter has introduced automated systems to detect bot activity and has taken down Russian, Chinese, Venezuelan and Saudi bots. The company also prohibited users from posting information illegally obtained through a security breach.

And this month, Twitter enforced new guidelines to label or remove deceptively edited videos from its site.

“We’re moving away from a model of waiting for a report to spotting patterns of behavior that can spot stuff before it catches fire,” Mr. Monje said.

Google, which owns YouTube, also altered its policies to prevent foreign-backed disinformation campaigns and introduced transparency measures for political ads.

The changes are evident in how the Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and the Kremlin-linked news outlet RT — two of YouTube’s most popular political newscasters in 2016 — no longer wield outsize influence on the site. Once YouTube tightened its hate speech policies, it banned Mr. Jones and other repeat offenders, and tweaked its recommendation algorithm to promote more authoritative news and fewer conspiracy theories.

Google security engineers said they were embedded in every corner of the company to look for Russian-style influence campaigns. They deliver daily threat briefings to executives and are conducting “red-team” drills to practice responding to hypothetical election-meddling scenarios, like hackers potentially manipulating the Google Maps locations of polling places on voting day.

Yet gaps remain in the tech platforms’ armor.

Government officials and former employees said Twitter’s algorithms were not reliably distinguishing between bots and humans who simply tweet like bots. Its efforts to label manipulated media have been underwhelming, said election campaigns. And some Twitter employees tracking election threats have been pulled away to triage misinformation about the coronavirus, such as false claims about miracle cures.

Threats have also emerged in unexpected places. In December, The New York Times revealed foreign spies were hiding in plain sight inside app stores from Google and Apple. Millions of users worldwide had downloaded a popular app, ToTok, which was leaking audio, photos, texts, and contacts to United Arab Emirates intelligence officials through a network of Emirati contractors.

Apple removed ToTok, but Google reinstated the app two weeks later. For six more weeks, Emirati spies continued siphoning off Google users’ data, said security experts and intelligence officials.

Google, which declined to comment on ToTok, eventually removed it from its app store last month.

Tracing interference attempts to Russia, or any other country, has become increasingly difficult.

For Facebook, Google and Twitter, the complications were clear through the evolving tactics of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the troll farm that meddled online in 2016. Its trolls once barely made any attempt to hide themselves online, with misspelled posts riddled with poor grammar.

Now the Russian group has better disguised itself, posting divisive messages stolen from American sites or publications. The trolls may now also be paying Americans to post information on their behalf, to better hide their digital tracks.

In one Facebook influence campaign in Africa last year, the Russian group appeared to pay locals to attend rallies and write favorable articles about its preferred candidates.

“Figuring out who is behind these campaigns can take months, years even,” said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity.

To connect the dots, security executives from Twitter, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other companies said they were meeting regularly with the Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I. and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They were also trading intelligence and discussing threats over encrypted chat messages with one another.

“I talk to them more than I talk to my husband,” Mr. Roth said of his counterparts at Facebook, Google and other companies.

The most divisive content this year may not come from Russian trolls or Macedonian teenagers peddling fake news for clicks, but from American politicians using many of the same tactics to push their own agendas.

One chief perpetrator? The White House.

Last month, Mr. Trump and other Republicans shared a video of Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, during the president’s State of the Union address. Ms. Pelosi had ripped up a copy of Mr. Trump’s speech at the end of the address. But the video was edited so it appeared as if she had torn up the speech while he honored a Tuskegee airman and military families.

A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi called for the video to be removed from Facebook and Twitter, saying it was “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people.” But the companies said the video did not violate their policies on manipulated media.

This month, Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, shared another selectively edited video. It showed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. appearing to say, “We can only re-elect Donald Trump.” In fact, the full video showed Mr. Biden saying Mr. Trump would only get re-elected if Democrats resorted to negative campaigning.

Facebook did not remove the video. By the time Twitter labeled it as manipulated, it had been viewed more than five million times. Because of a glitch, some Twitter users did not see the label at all.

“The Biden video wasn’t manipulated, and if Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to see video of herself ripping up the speech, she shouldn’t have ripped up the speech,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump re-election campaign. He suggested that Twitter’s efforts to label the video were evidence of bias.

Democrats have also pushed the envelope to get messages out on social media. Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, which he suspended this month, caused headaches for the tech platforms, even as they took in millions of dollars to run his ads.

Among his campaign’s innovations was buying sponsored posts from influential Instagram meme accounts and paying “digital organizers” $2,500 a month to post pro-Bloomberg messages on their social media accounts. The campaign also posted a video of Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential debate performance, which had been edited to create the impression of long, awkward silences by his opponents.

Some of the tactics seemed perilously close to violating the tech companies’ rules on undisclosed political ads, manipulated media and “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” a term for networks of fake or suspicious accounts acting in concert.

Facebook and Twitter scrambled to react, hastily patching together solutions, including requiring more disclosure — or taking no action at all.

By then, the Bloomberg campaign, which declined to comment, had set a new playbook for other campaigns to follow.

“We can’t blame Russia for all our troubles,” said Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer who now researches disinformation at Stanford University. “The future of disinformation is going to be domestic.”

Inside the tech companies, people charged with protecting the election have at times clashed with those whose job is to keep lawmakers happy, partly by avoiding the appearance of partisan bias.

At Facebook, those tensions spilled out last year.

In November and December, members of Facebook’s security team clashed with the policy team, whose Washington-based leadership includes several former Republican operatives, over a network of Facebook accounts, groups and pages run by The Daily Wire, a right-wing media company started by the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro.

Facebook’s security team had found The Daily Wire and other similar networks used tactics commonly associated with disinformation networks, including coordinating messaging and posts without indicating they were centrally administered, said people with knowledge of the findings.

Some security team members wanted an expanded mandate to investigate hyperpartisan networks based in the United States, the people said. But the policy team discouraged them and made it clear that foreign influence operations took priority over domestic ones, they said.

Part of the policy team’s concern, said one employee who participated in the discussions, was that taking action against a prominent right-wing network could set off a Republican backlash.

Mr. Gleicher, of Facebook, said he did not recall tensions over The Daily Wire, adding that the investigation found the site did not meet the threshold for enforcement. He also disputed that Facebook had discouraged investigations into domestic influence operations because of possible political fallout.

“We make decisions based on behavior,” he said. “Whether it’s foreign or domestic, the question is, are they engaged in these consistent behaviors?”

The specter of partisan backlash surfaced again this month, when Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign ran Facebook ads asking people to take an “Official 2020 Congressional District Census.” In fact, the ads linked to a Trump campaign survey.

That prompted an uproar. Civil rights groups said the ads could mislead voters by suggesting they were connected to the official U.S. census.

Over a frenetic 48 hours, Facebook went into damage control. Although the social network has said it would not fact-check political ads, it also prohibits misinformation about the census.

The policy team initially decided the Trump census ads did not violate Facebook’s rules. But a day later, under fire for inaction, a senior Facebook executive reversed the call.

The ads came down, after all.

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Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-cyber-facebookJumbo Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2020 House Committee on Intelligence democratic national committee Cyberwarfare and Defense Clinton, Hillary Rodham central intelligence agency

At first glance, it may seem contradictory that the nation’s intelligence agencies were telling Congress that President Vladimir V. Putin is presumably striving to get President Trump re-elected, while also warning Senator Bernie Sanders of evidence that he is the Russian president’s favorite Democrat.

But to the intelligence analysts and outside experts who have spent the past three years dissecting Russian motives in the 2016 election, and who tried to limit the effect of Moscow’s meddling in the 2018 midterms, what is unfolding in 2020 makes perfect sense.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders represent the most divergent ends of their respective parties, and both are backed by supporters known more for their passion than their policy rigor, which makes them ripe for exploitation by Russian trolls, disinformation specialists and hackers for hire seeking to widen divisions in American society.

While the two candidates disagree on almost everything, both share an instinct that the United States is overcommitted abroad: Neither is likely to pursue policies that push back aggressively on Mr. Putin’s plan to restore Moscow’s influence around the world, from the former Soviet states to the Middle East.

And if you are trying to sow chaos in an already chaotic, vitriolic election, Mr. Putin could hardly hope for better than a face-off between an incumbent with a history of race-baiting who is shouting “America First” at rallies — while darkly suggesting the coming election is rigged — and a democratic socialist from Vermont advocating a drastic expansion of taxes and government programs like Medicare.

“Any figures that radicalize politics and do harm to center views and unity in the United States are good for Putin’s Russia,” said Victoria Nuland, who served as ambassador to NATO and assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and had her phone calls intercepted and broadcast by Russian intelligence services.

The intelligence reports provided to the House Intelligence Committee, inciting Mr. Trump’s ire, may make the American understanding of Mr. Putin’s plans sound more certain than they really are, according to intelligence officials who contributed to the assessment. Those officials caution that such reports are as much art as science, a mixture of informants, intercepted conversations and intuition, as analysts in the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies try to get into the heads of foreign leaders.

Though intelligence officials have disputed that the officer who delivered the main briefing said Russia was actively aiding the president’s re-election, people in the room said that intelligence officers’ responses to lawmakers’ follow-up questions made clear that Russia was trying to get Mr. Trump re-elected.

Intelligence is hardly a perfect process, as Americans learned when the nation went to war in Iraq based in part on an estimate that Saddam Hussein was once again in search of a nuclear weapon.

But in this election, the broad strategy — as opposed to the specific tactics — are not exactly a mystery. Mr. Putin, the analysts agree, mostly seeks anything that would further take the sheen off American democracy and make presidential elections in the United States seem no more credible than his own. After that, he is eager for a compliant counterpart in the White House, one unlikely to challenge his territorial and nuclear ambitions.

Not surprisingly, the Kremlin says this is all an American fantasy, aimed at demonizing Russia for the United States’ own failings. “These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the election,” Mr. Putin’s confidant and spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters on Friday. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”

No matter who is elected, Mr. Putin has likely undermined one of his own primary goals: getting the United States and its allies to lift sanctions that were imposed after he annexed Crimea and accelerated a hybrid war against Ukraine.

“By actively exploiting divisions within American society and having its activities revealed, the Kremlin has ensured that its longer-term goal of having the U.S. remove sanctions and return to a less confrontational relationship so far has been thwarted,” Angela E. Stent, a former national intelligence officer for Russia and now a professor at Georgetown University, wrote in her book “Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest.”

On Saturday, Ms. Stent noted that if the Russians are in fact interfering in this election, “it could bring about new energy sanctions.’’ She noted that one piece of legislation in the Senate, the DETER bill, would require new sanctions if evidence of Russian meddling emerges from intelligence agencies. Ms. Stent noted that, so far, Mr. Putin may have concluded that the penalties are a small price to pay if he can bring his geopolitical rival down a few more notches. And the early intelligence analyses suggest that, by backing Mr. Sanders in the primary and Mr. Trump in the general election, he would probably have a good chance of maximizing the electoral tumult.

Mr. Sanders is hardly a new target for the Russians. The 2018 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their activities in the last presidential election — issued by the Justice Department under the Trump administration — claimed that the officers “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Robert S. Mueller III, in the report on his investigation into Russian operations, concluded that the release of memos hacked from the Democratic National Committee were meant to inflame Mr. Sanders’s supporters by revealing that the committee was funneling assets to Mrs. Clinton.

The more recent public reports emerging from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., and classified reports generated by the C.I.A. and others suggest that while the Russian objectives have remained the same, the techniques have shifted.

“The Russians aren’t going to use the old playbook, we know that,” said Christopher C. Krebs, who runs the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

His organization, along with the National Security Agency and British intelligence, has been steadily documenting how Russian operatives are becoming stealthier, learning from the mistakes they made in 2016.

As they focus on evading more vigilant government agencies and technology companies trying to identify and counter malicious online activity, the Russians are boring into Iranian cyberoffense units, apparently so that they can initiate attacks that look as if they originate in Iran — which itself has shown interest in messing with the American electoral process. Russians are putting more of their attack operations on computer servers in the United States, where the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies — but not the F.B.I. and homeland security — are prohibited from operating.

And, in one of the most effective twists, they are feeding disinformation to unsuspecting Americans on Facebook and other social media. By seeding conspiracy theories and baseless claims on the platforms, Russians hope everyday Americans will retransmit those falsehoods from their own accounts. That is an attempt to elude Facebook’s efforts to remove disinformation, which it can do more easily when it flags “inauthentic activity,” like Russians posing as Americans. It is much harder to ban the words of real Americans, who may be parroting a Russian story line, even unintentionally.

Mr. Krebs noted that this was why the Department of Homeland Security had to focus on educating Americans about where their information was coming from. “How do you explain,” he asked last year, “‘This is how you’re being manipulated, this is how they’re hacking your brain?’”

In 2018, the United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency mounted a new and more public campaign to push back at the Russians, attacking and blocking their Internet Research Agency for a few days around the November elections and texted warnings to Russian intelligence officers that they were being watched. The N.S.A. is preparing for similar counterattacks this year: On Thursday, the United States cited intelligence and blamed Russia for a cyberattack last fall on the republic of Georgia, another place where Mr. Putin seems to be holding dress rehearsals.

Now American intelligence agencies face a new question: How do they run such operations, and warn Congress and Americans, at a moment when the president is declaring the intelligence on Russian election meddling is “another misinformation campaign” that is “launched by Democrats in Congress?”

The intelligence agencies are loath to cross him. The acting director of national intelligence at the time, Joseph Maguire, resisted appearing in public to provide the “Worldwide Threat Assessment” that is usually given to Congress before the president’s State of the Union address. (He was dismissed last week before he had to testify.) Because Mr. Trump was so angered by how his predecessor’s testimony contradicted his own statements last year — particularly on Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State — Mr. Maguire was in no hurry to repeat the experience.

His successor, Richard Grenell, the current American ambassador to Germany, is known for his political allegiance to Mr. Trump, not for his knowledge of the American intelligence agencies. He is widely viewed by career officials as more interested in making sure public intelligence reports do not embarrass Mr. Trump than sounding the clarion call that the Russians are coming, again.

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Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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