CyberCom mulls aggressive tactics if Russia interferes in next election: report

The U.S. is working on information warfare tactics that could be used to counter possible Russian interference in the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing current and former officials. 

The U.S. Cyber Command (CyberCom) is mulling one strategy that would go after top Russian officials and elites to demonstrate that their personal information could be hit if interference continues, according to the Post.

The officials reportedly said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely not be a target because that would be too provocative. 

The Post reported last month that an intelligence community report found that Russia’s top goal for its 2020 operations would be to sow discord in the U.S.

“It’s always been about exacerbating fault lines in our society,” one official told the newspaper. 

Defense Department spokesperson Elissa Smith told The Hill in an email Thursday that the department is “when authorized, taking action to disrupt or degrade malicious nation-state cyber actors ability to interfere in U.S. elections.”

Smith did not provide specifics and said the department doesn’t comment on its cyberspace operations, planning, or intelligence “by policy and for operations security.”

The reported tactics would build upon past efforts. The New York Times reported last year that the U.S. was conducting cyber operations meant to prevent interference in the 2018 midterm election. 

The Washington Post has previously reported that CyberCom officials have said they were able to block internet access for a major Russian troll farm on Election Day. 

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team determined earlier this year that Russia aimed to help President Trump win the 2016 presidential election. The team did not find that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee, in a report this year, has also found “extensive” election interference from Russians.

Tags cybersecurity Donald Trump election interference Robert Mueller Russia Russian interference Vladimir Putin

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