Russia continues to conduct an information warfare campaign in the United States, a top Department of Homeland Security official told lawmakers, raising concerns about foreign influence just months before the 2018 midterm elections.
Christopher Krebs, under secretary for national protection , testified before Congress July 11 that the Russian government has “focused on identifying divisive issues and sowing discord” in the United States through a campaign of information warfare.
Krebs said the department was confident that a Russian campaign to target American critical infrastructure “is still ongoing” and that Russian agents “are actively pursuing their ultimate long-term campaign objectives.”
The U.S. government officials said in March that Russia has targeted energy, nuclear and commercial facilities during a campaign of cyberattacks that have continued since at least March 2016.
“Our democratic system and critical infrastructure are under attack,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
The testimony comes one week before a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The topic of election meddling is expected to be on the agenda for the two leaders, although it is unclear if the apparent attacks on American critical infrastructure will be brought up.
Krebs’ testimony was centered on the 2018 elections. He told lawmakers that states were more prepared to secure their election systems in part due to better communication and increased federal funding.
The 2018 omnibus package contains more than $400 million in election assistance or infrastructure.
During the 2016 elections, Krebs said that the Russian government accessed state voter registration records and likely took data. He added it was likely that all 50 states were scanned by hackers, although that does not mean each state had information stolen.
He said that although the Russian information warfare campaign continues, “we have not seen anything to the degree of 2016 in terms of specific hacking of election systems.”
But that may change soon. The Department of Homeland Security first became aware of the Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election around the month of July, Krebs said.
Justin Lynch is the Associate Editor at Fifth Domain. He has written for the New Yorker, the Associated Press, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and others. Follow him on Twitter @just1nlynch.