Interference in the 2020 presidential election was widely prevalent. The media attempted to sway voters one way or the other as multitudes of fake personalities invaded social media with bogus information aimed at either political party. Since most of us take liberal media views with a grain of salt anyway, the most damaging interference came by way of social media and computer hacking, and the bulk of it originated overseas.
Two Iranian hackers have just been caught and charged for their attempts at intimidating U.S. citizens. Their goal was to instill mistrust in the outcome of the election thereby destroying all confidence in the U.S. electoral system. Because they wanted to pit Americans against Americans in hopes of starting a bloody civil war that would destroy the country from within, they targeted voters from both parties.
As part of an Iranian-led cyber campaign, the two sent out emails with conflicting messages, and they posted a fake video purporting to show election fraud that went viral. After the election, they failed at gaining access to a major American media network where who knows what they had planned.
While U.S. officials were keeping a close eye on Russian interference, Iranian hackers were having a field day. These two just happened to have been caught.
The Russians targeted Joe Biden supporters in support of Donald Trump. The Iranians for the most part did the opposite. They have a beef against Trump and they didn’t want any further trouble out of him. After having blown up one of their dignitaries in a car, they’re kinda frightened of the man. But, Iran’s main objective was the whole civil war thing. If Trump lost in the process, all the better.
It’s believed that the numerous Iranian hacking operations received full authorization from Supreme-Turban-Head Ali Khamenei and that they were most likely funded by the government. A determination has yet to be made if they were able to infiltrate voting stations to change totals, but if they were it would certainly answer some unanswered questions.
Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashia, both Iranian nationals, were charged in a federal Manhattan court. Both men are highly experienced hackers who were working for a cybersecurity firm as private contractors, but neither is in custody. For all of the good any of this does, they’re both still in Iran. Even Dog the Bounty Hunter won’t chase them down there.
The U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions against both men, some of their known colleagues, and the cybersecurity firm. The least this will do is restrict their travel out of Iran but that’s about it. The charges against the men include voter intimidation, various computer crimes, interstate threats, and a host of others.
Just weeks prior to the election the hackers made attempts at breaking into the voter websites in at least 11 states, and probably more. It’s known that they made it into at least one where they were able to download the personal information of over 100,000 voters.
In their efforts to get Americans to start killing each other, the Iranian cyber campaign sent out carefully scripted messages catering to both parties. Many of the messages threatened physical harm if the person didn’t switch their allegiance to the opposite party. This way both the Left and the Right would think it was the other one that always resorted to violence, and that their side was more peaceful and rational.
In reality, all this really accomplishes is letting the Iranians know we’re on to them. You can bet they’ll be back at it when 2024 starts getting closer. What can we do about it? Nothing outside of putting our noggins to good use. If a report or a message looks and walks like a duck, you know the rest. Careful out there.