By Joseph Marks
Medics and other
The concern comes as people test positive for the virus in numerous states, including California, Texas and Alabama – which are among the 14 states that will hold their Democratic primaries Tuesday.
The virus, which has killed nearly 3,000 people worldwide, could offer a near-perfect test case for how operatives from Russia or elsewhere seeking to undermine confidence in the election could boost public fears to stop people from heading to the polls – maybe enough to swing a tight race or at least raise doubts in the results.
It's “one of a number of scenarios” of potential interference federal officials are monitoring, the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity division chief Chris Krebs told Kevin Collier at NBC News. Krebs’s office declined to comment this weekend when I asked for more information about the possible response.
“This is a new and obviously very scary virus, and misinformation can leverage off of that,” Peter Singer, a fellow at the New America think tank who has written extensively about information warfare, told me. “I would almost be surprised if we don’t see it.”
There are signs that adversaries may be trying to ramp up public anxiety, as my colleague Tony Romm reports. The propaganda-fighting wing of the State Department identified 2 million tweets peddling
This political bickering over public health could sow public distrust in government and expert statements about the virus, leading many to believe it’s either not as bad or far worse than it really is, Singer said.
“Disinformation and conspiracy theories thrive like communicable diseases,” he said. “They thrive in an environment where people don’t know basic facts or how to defend themselves.”
The fact that many Super Tuesday contests are potentially close races between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would make it easier for adversaries to sow doubt about a victory with minimal effort, Yonatan
“Imagine how easy it is to spread a rumor saying traces of
An attacker could even micro-target the rumors, for example, by sending phony text messages warning about the virus to people in a particular city or neighborhood that favors one candidate, Striem-Amit and his colleague Roi Carmel, Cybereason’s chief strategy, product and marketing officer, told me.
“There should be an assumption that people will try to exploit this,” Striem-Amit said. “There should be instructions on what happens when there's a rumor, what are the official communication channels, how do you convince people, no matter what, to go out to vote.”
A Russian campaign playing on
“Such steps have won tech giants plaudits from critics who long have clamored for the industry to take a more active role in policing a wide array of harmful content on the Internet,” Tony reports. “But it has not curtailed the flood of
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.). (Doug Mills/New York Times/AP)
Trump backed off nominating Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence in July after the plan faced stiff resistance in Congress, as my colleagues Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima report. But his gambit this time may not be to actually install Ratcliffe but to prolong the tenure of his acting director, another loyalist, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. Democrats have slammed both Ratcliffe and Grenell for lacking any background in intelligence.
“The last time this nomination was unsuccessfully put forward, serious bipartisan questions were raised about Rep. Ratcliffe’s background and qualifications,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-
Ratcliffe has some background in
A sign points people toward a voting location.
Instead, the state will use a system that allows overseas voters to print out a ballot and mail it in, Kevin reports.
West Virginia was considering offering the app to counties to comply with a recent state law that requires an electronic voting option for all voters with disabilities. But the study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology raised too many concerns.
“If the public doesn’t want it or is skeptical to the point they’re not confident in the results, we have to take that into consideration,” Donald “Deak” Kersey, general counsel for Secretary of State Mac Warner, told Kevin.
The company has approached at least six such
“Like most leading companies, Huawei sometimes relies on industry experts, consulting firms and advisory boards across the breadth of our business to ensure we’re operating in the most effective manner possible,” a Huawei spokesman told the Journal in a statement. Huawei has “no current contracts with third-party advisers outside of our usual consultants,” the official said.
CHAT ROOMAs Super Tuesday approaches, these tweets from Georgetown University Professor Matt Blaze feel especially salient:
The delicate line in election security work is conveying how utterly fragile US election infrastructure is (very, and this is an urgent problem), without feeding the "all elections are rigged" nonsense (a wild exaggeration for which there is little to no actual evidence).—
mattblaze (@mattblaze) March 1, 2020
There are real problems with election infrastructure security that urgently need to be fixed. There are actual facts to back this up, and they don't need "help."—
mattblaze (@mattblaze) March 1, 2020