Last night, Americans watched to see how the US election would play out. In addition to wondering whether Texas would go blue, or whether votes would go uncounted, many wondered about the potential for cyber interference.
Did cyber attacks occur on election day?
Agencies waited on edge all day long. Overall, no cyber attacks appear to have affected Americans on election day.
However, for months, the FBI and New York attorney general have tracked a mysterious series of robo calls that aimed to convince citizens to stay home. Although there is no specific mention of the US elections in the call, the number of these calls increased by 5x or 6x on election day.
In the calls, the robot’s synthetic voice says the following: “Hello. This is just a test call. Time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home.”
Why are these robo calls fueling election anxiety?
For some, these robocalls are triggering anxiety about violence around the election. The calls aren’t a form of election hacking, but they are hacking into peoples’ psyches.
“Instead of saying like, Election Day is not today, the fact that it said ‘stay safe’ felt both vile and prescient as if they knew there were other things, real things happening in the world, not robocalls, that were making myself and my wife feel anxious,” said Hashim Warren, a 40 year-old Democratic voter based in North Carolina.
Robo calls occurring across the US:
Officials in Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan report similar or identical types of robo calls.
In a statement, the USTelecom industry association asserted that the calls may be coming from Europe. No further details are available at this time.
What about those technical glitches on election day?
They really were just technical glitches, according to reports. These types of issues occur as any/every election day unfolds, and individuals are encouraged to refrain from jumping to conclusions.
This year, malfunctions occurred due to unapproved, last-minute software updates, and hand sanitizer residue that jammed a tabulator.
In Ohio, an electronic poll book crashed. However, a paper backup system and alternative procedures managed to keep everyone and everything proceeding smoothly. “There was no indication that the issue was caused by a cyberattack,” writes NBC News.
In Texas, a results reporting site stopped functioning for an hour last night. No one could immediately discern why. Ultimately, a spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State, Ruth Hughs’ office stated that issue was related to the vendor hosting the site.
And in Georgia, a water pipe burst in one polling station, leading to delayed vote counting. No ballots were damaged.
What does the US Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Association (CISA) say about election hacking (or lack thereof) in 2020?
“What we’ve seen today is just another Tuesday on the internet” said one unnamed senior CISA official. “We’ve had four years to get ready for this one. I think the state and local officials deserve a lot of credit for improving their systems.” Officials should be proud, as despite substantial fears and credible information surrounding potential election hacking, no election hacking has occurred.
But, the country should still proceed with caution. Says CISA Director Chris Krebs, “We’re not out of the woods yet…today [Tuesday] in some sense is halftime. There may be other events or activities or efforts to interfere or undermine confidence in the election.”
For more on the 2020 US election and election hacking-related news, visit Reuters.