Cold War Group to Probe Russian Hacks of U.S. Voter Databases
Such a loss of faith easily could lead to the kind of protracted vote counts and legal challenges that George W. Bush and Al Gore dealt with in the disputed 2000 presidential election—except this time there would be more than hanging ballot chads as evidence of suspicious activity. Whether that could delay the certification of votes in swing states remains to be seen, but considering the delays caused by in the Gore vs. Bush election, it could. One thing that could help prevent such chaos was mentioned specifically by Comey in his speech. The director was listing changes the FBI was working on in regards to cyber-crime and cyber-attacks, and one of his main points was his attempt to add real consequences to such activities. "We're trying to impose costs," Comey said. "We want to lock some people up." But if that can't happen, as in the case of the unidentified agents of foreign governments, he wants to call them out. "We want to name and shame through indictments, sanctions or public relations campaigns who is doing this and exactly what they're doing," Comey said. This may explain the FBI's new willingness to name Russia as the nation-state currently attacking the U.S. election process.Comey said that while he understands the reluctance on the part of businesses to bring in the FBI in response to activities such as data breaches or ransomware attacks, he believes that the only way to stop the activity is by getting the FBI involved. The FBI and others in the law enforcement and intelligence community need to engage in what Comey calls "adult conversations" with the private sector to find solutions to today's cyber-security threats. "We need to recognize that there are no evil people involved in this conversation," Comey said, which is a reference to the atmosphere of mutual distrust that currently exists between private sector and government law enforcement authorities when it comes to cyber-security policies. The fact that the FBI is heavily involved defending the U.S. electoral process from disruption by foreign cyber-attacks is encouraging. While Comey acknowledged that it's impossible to prevent such attacks, he said he believes they can be deterred. But even if deterrence isn't possible, the act of shining a bright light on such activities will on its own help keep the potential for chaos at bay.
One other item in Comey's speech that may illustrate the FBI's change in focus is the director's emphasis on finding ways to work with the U.S. private sector to get a handle on cyber-crime and other cyber-attacks.