Burt also attributes the lower Russian hacking activity to seemingly lower stakes in the midterm elections where a presidency is not on the line. Burt stated,
“I would say that the consensus of the threat intelligence community right now is that we are not seeing the same level of activity by the Russian activity groups leading in to the midyear elections that we could see when we look back at the 2016 election.”
“We don’t see the activity of them trying to infiltrate think tanks, academia and social networks to do the research they do to build the phishing attacks that they then launch,” Burt explained. “We are not seeing ongoing activity like the one we were able to disrupt earlier this year.”
But he also cautioned vigilance is still needed.
That doesn’t mean we are not going to see it, there’s a lot of time left before the election.”
The United States intelligence community characterized the 2016 Russian cyber attacks as two pronged. The first employed bots to create social media misinformation campaigns against Hillary Clinton and in favor of Donald Trump. Social media outlets continue to work against this ongoing method of attack.
The second was the phishing to gain access to DNC records and internal correspondence, also designed to hurt the candidacy of Clinton and bolster Trump. Russian intelligence used supposed whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, contacting them via Twitter front account “Guccifer 2.0” in the second phase of their interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Since the 2016 elections, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation resulted in over 100 criminal counts, 35 indictments, 5 guilty pleas and 4 convictions as of July 13.
The midterm elections are November 6, 2018. United States voters can mitigate the influence of foreign governments by performing due diligence on information online and casting their vote. In the 2014 midterms, only 38% of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot.