On the News

U.S. Expanded Efforts to ID Foreign Hacking Before Election

The U.S. Cyber Command expanded its overseas operations aimed at finding foreign hacking groups before the election on Tuesday, an effort to identify not only Russian tactics but also those of China and Iran, reports the New York Times. In addition to new operations in Europe to pursue Russian hackers, Cyber Command sent teams to the Middle East and Asia to help find Iranian, Chinese and North Korean hacking teams and identify the tools they were using to break into computer networks. Cyber Command was expanding on a push begun in 2018, when it sent teams to North Macedonia, Montenegro and other countries to learn more about Russian operations. The move reflects a stepped-up effort to secure this year’s presidential election.

Cyber Command, which runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world, was largely on the sidelines in 2016. For the 2018 midterm elections, the command took a far more aggressive posture. In addition to sending the teams to allied countries, it sent warning messages to would-be Russian trolls before the vote, in its first offensive operation against Moscow; it took at least one of those troll farms offline on Election Day and the days afterward. The 2018 operation was focused mostly on Russia, Before the election this year, intelligence officials have described efforts by Iran and China, as well as Russia, to potentially influence the vote, and Cyber Command has widened its focus. Cyber Command calls its work with allies to find enemy hackers “hunt forward operations.”  Officials would identify only regions and not the countries they had operated in before the 2020 election.