Wray: FBI Sees No Attacks On U.S. Voter Databases, But Plenty of Russian Agitation

FBI Director Chris Wray said on Sept. 16 that his agency hasn’t seen any attempts thus far by foreign actors to attack the U.S. voter registration databases in the run-up to the November elections, or any attempt to tamper with vote counts.

“We haven’t seen cyberattacks to date this year, on voter registration databases or on any systems involved with primary voting, and to our knowledge, no foreign government has attempted to tamper with U.S. vote counts,” Director Wray said at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) CyberSummit 2020. “But we’re always on watch against any threat to the foundations of our democracy.”

Director Wray emphasized that election security is top-of-mind for the agency as it works with the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to secure the general elections later this year. He added that the FBI is engaging with election officials, campaigns, party committees, and social media companies to share information and enhance resiliency.

Testifying today at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing today, Director Wray said Russia has been very much involved in attempting to influence the results of the 2020 election through coordinated social media campaigns.

“We certainly have seen very active – very active – efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020, through what I would call more of a maligned foreign influence side of things,” he said. “Social media, use of proxies, and state media, online journals, etc. In efforts to both sow divisiveness and discord and – I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly – primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden in what the Russians see as an anti-Russian establishment.”

During the CISA summit, Director Wray also spoke about the bureau’s new cyber strategy which he said, “in a nutshell is to improve risk and consequences on cyber adversaries.”

“Central to our strategy is the role FBI plays as indispensable partner, to our Federal counterparts, our foreign partners, and our private sector partners,” Director Wray said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help our partners do what they need to do. That means using our role as the lead Federal agency – with law enforcement and intelligence responsibilities – to not only pursue our own actions, but to enable our partners to defend networks attribute malicious activity, sanction bad behavior, and take the fight to our adversaries overseas.”

Jordan Smith
About Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.