November 24, 2020

Who’s going to derail the U.S. presidential election? The culprit may be close to home

Fearing nightmare scenarios such as attacks on voter registration databases and state websites tallying results, U.S. officials are leading simulated training exercises to get ready for Nov. 3.

The “tabletop exercises,” to be held virtually because of coronavirus, will include thousands of state and local election officials in addition to intelligence and cybersecurity officials in Washington amid concerns about threats from Russia, China and other countries.

“We try to make it a pretty bad day,” said Matthew Masterson, an adviser with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, part of the Department of Homeland Security. CISA is charged with helping to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks, including its election systems.

Still, Masterson and other experts say the U.S. is now far better prepared to weather potential election meddling by Russia or other foreign adversaries than in 2016, when the Kremlin hacked into Democratic Party emails and orchestrated a sophisticated disinformation campaign designed to help elect then-candidate Donald Trump.

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