FBI Posts Video Series in Hopes of Helping Political Campaigns Stop Election Meddling


As the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a video series to help candidates shore up their cybersecurity to avoid the kind of online meddling that disrupted the 2016 election.

Dubbed Protected Voices, the initiative includes a series of videos featuring FBI special agents and computer scientists detailing ways foreign actors could seek to hack or influence political campaigns.

It also provides tips on how campaigns can improve their digital security, such as communicating using encryption, hardening routers, and spotting foreign agents that may try attempt to infiltrate computer systems.

A video on social engineering warns of “targeted lies designed to get you to let your guard down” and warns about phishing attacks used to infiltrate computer networks—the method used by Russian hackers to steal emails from John Podesta, the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.

Another video, featuring an FBI staff operations specialist, gives advice on how a campaign can tell if it has been hacked. “Chances are, by the time you realize your systems may have been compromised, the attacker has already taken most or all of your information,” the specialist says.

“Protected Voices aims to help political campaigns, private companies and individuals protect themselves from foreign actors who want to hijack their message,” FBI Director Christopher Wray says, in a video introducing the initiative. “We’ve created these protected voices videos to showcase the methods these adversaries might use and to help campaigns practice good cyberhygiene because the foundation of election security is cybersecurity.”

Wray suggests that the videos, made in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, should be shown to new staff members and volunteers on campaigns.

Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election included hacking into the email accounts of Democratic employees and volunteers and releasing hacked documents damaging to Clinton’s campaign, and a social media campaign designed to sow U.S. discord.

“I think the advice is outstanding,” said Patrick Peterson, founder and chief executive officer of Agari, an email security firm. “What is really does is that establishes a baseline. Up until now if you’re running a campaign you’re probably not going to have a CISO or a decade of infrastructure.” CISO is shorthand for chief information security officer.

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