Scaring off election hackers
The Russians did not mount a serious cyberattack on our midterm elections, said Eli Lake, and it’s likely because U.S. cyberwarriors have gone on offense. The Department of Homeland Security feared that Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea might infiltrate voting databases and even change election results, so the Trump administration launched a program in September to “unleash U.S. Cyber Command to hack the hackers back.” When trolls and military hackers probed our networks, U.S. cyberwarriors sent them pop-ups, emails, texts, and direct messages warning that they would pay a steep price if they tried to disrupt the midterms. U.S. officials say there is much more going on that remains classified. But the goal is to force adversaries to devote resources to securing their own networks. “This shift has been a long time coming.” In 2016, the Obama administration did little in response to Russian hacking, fearing an escalation of the cyberwar. But the U.S. can’t sit around waiting to be attacked, and this time, deterrence worked. Will that be true next time? Nobody knows. Though we can’t see the fighting, the internet is becoming the international battleground of the 21st century.