Top US cyber official says there’s no ‘specific’ threat to elections, but is concerned about harassment and intimidation.
This story first appeared in the Guardian
The state department has “no particular” concerns that states will be targeted in the run-up to the 2020 election in the US, but it is concerned about “what the Russians have been doing”, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday, adding that he was still assessing the threat to electoral systems.
The secretary also said he did not know of any threats to US elections posed by state-controlled hacking groups, although he was still seeing reports of them.
The Russian foreign ministry said it is “concerned by the reports of interference into the US election” and welcomed efforts to “combat cyber-attacks on the US electoral process… and also to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in all countries.”
Tillerson’s comments after a series of meetings with Russian diplomats on Saturday, the second time he has met with the country’s foreign minister, prompted sharp criticism from US allies, who said America had to take action to defend democratic systems and defend itself against cyber-attacks.
Moscow has blamed what it calls “fake news” created by US-based internet sites for stoking tension in US politics.
It is also reported to have deployed a hacking unit in order to interfere in the US political system.
The secretary of state told reporters that he is “extremely concerned” by Russian interference in last year’s US presidential election, warning voters against complacency and urging them not to give Russia another chance to interfere.
On Sunday, Tillerson said he was not trying to pressure President Vladimir Putin “to intervene to prevent a US election from happening, but I am aware that he is trying to do that.”
“I’m not going to impose sanctions on Russia right now, but I am going to do so as soon as we have more information,” Tillerson said.
Russia denies the US accusations of interference, saying the allegations are politically motivated and aimed at destabilising a NATO ally.
But Russia’s actions in the US, including the deployment