The U.S. government’s top election security official said Tuesday the threat of foreign interference in the nation’s elections has not gone away as Russia is continuing its efforts to “destabilize” the government and will “be back” for the 2020 election.
“The Russians will — are continuing to try to destabilize — our form of government and just our way of life, in general,” Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, told “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil.
“That’s kind of our planning factor,” Krebs added. “They’re going to be back. They’re trying to get into our heads. They’re trying to hack our brains, so to speak, and ultimately have us — lose faith in our processes.”
Krebs’ agency was formed after investigators concluded Russian agents breached election systems in at least two states during the 2016 election, along with hacking and releasing Democratic officials’ emails.
He said one of his worst fears is that someone will use ransomware to lock up election systems.
“What if somebody locked up a voter registration database a month in front of an election?” Krebs said. “What are our fallback positions?”
One of the DHS’s major goals is to get to a point where every state has a paper backup system for its elections, said Krebs.
“For the 2020 election, I think we’re looking at about 92% of the votes in America will be cast associated with a paper ballot,” Krebs said, even while that will leave out millions of voters, but there is time to still improve more on the systems.
Federal authorities are also working with social media companies to fight back about misinformation and is publishing documents for the public about foreign interference.
But when it comes to misinformation shared by President Donald Trump through Twitter, Krebs replied that the president’s tweets stand on their own.
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