Civic Action

12 Cyber Threats That Could Wreak Havoc on the Election

October 23, 2020  • Garrett Graff

This article originally appeared in Wired.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AT a brief, hastily arranged press conference at FBI headquarters, four top US national security officials announced solemnly that they had evidence that two foreign adversaries, Iran and Russia, had obtained US voter data and appeared to be trying to spread disinformation about the election.

It was the latest—and most troubling—episode in a week that has seen near-daily events set off potential alarms about how the US will hold up on and approaching Election Day. In the final hours last Tuesday before the voter registration deadline in Virginia, an accidentally cut fiber-optic cable knocked out access to the state registration portal. The next morning, the New York Post published an odd, inconsistent, and poorly sourced story about Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma that reeked of a ham-handed information operation. A day later came an extended outage of Twitter. Neither the Virginia cable cutting nor the Twitter outage was nefarious, though US officials continue to argue over the origins of the Burisma leaks.