The U.S. midterm elections are right around the corner and reports of Russian meddling during the last Presidential campaign is cause for concern. Could we have a repeat of Russian interference in the upcoming midterms? It turns out that it’s not just Russian hackers that could cause problems. As recently as late summer, three midterm campaigns were targeted with phishing attempts. The Department of Justice is now trying to prepare for a full range of possible cybercrimes.
What The DOJ Is Saying
As reported in a recent article on CNBC.com, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released an extensive report detailing steps that the DOJ has taken to try to combat concerns of foreign influence. This report covers not only social media meddling but also a range of other potential cybercrimes, including election hacking. Rosenstein’s report details legal actions and arrests related to cybercrime and the federal government. It also points out that the government has become increasingly dependent on the private sector for help in defending against and preventing cybercrime.
The recent phishing attempts carried out in midterm congressional elections are like those reported by the DNC during the presidential election. Rosenstein’s report raises concerns not only for similar attempts from Russians, but also for other copycat cybercrime attempts from other foreign nations. There is a wide variety of election-related cyber threats to defend against from social media meddling to hacking into voter registry databases, election machine hacking and even power grid manipulation on voting day. The Washington Post recently reported that voter unease is growing as well, citing an NPR-Marist poll.
The Challenge Of Encryption
One of the biggest challenges facing the DoJ is securing usable information on suspected cybercriminals. The legal issue of whether large private-sector technology companies should be required to decrypt data for criminal investigations is one of the biggest blockades in getting decrypted criminal data. The federal government maintains that the unavailability of decrypted data prevents them from solving a wide range of cybercrime including terrorism or issues with national security. But private companies generally believe that providing access to encrypted data poses an even greater threat to cybersecurity by making private data readily accessible.
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