The 2018 Midterm elections just happened in America.
During this time, most voters were mostly concerned about whether their party would gain or retain a majority in either congressional chamber.
However, there was a more significant issue overlooked by both American citizens and politicians. That issue was illegal interference or meddling by foreign states (or actors").
Such interference can not only compromise the integrity of the midterms and future elections, but the foundation upon which our democracy is built upon.
In the past two years, we have seen just how disruptive outside interference can be to our democratic system. Foreign actors have used various methods to undermine recent elections — ranging from hacking operations to propaganda campaigns.
One of the most infamous instances of foreign actors interfering in American politics was the 2016 Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack. This breach was said to be a Russian-backed operation involving hackers accessing the DNC networks.
The attackers allegedly extracted emails from DNC staffers and leaked them to well-known whistleblower site, Wikileaks. According to some within the intelligence community, the goal of the operation was to hinder Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidential election.
These operations have not exclusively targeted any particular party.
This became apparent when conservative politicians and think tanks were targeted in another Russian-backed cyber campaign. This one involved a spear-phishing initiative that seeing bad actors use spoofed Web sites and misleading e-mails to trick users to give their login credentials.
This was done to gather information on conservative politicians who had unfavorable views of the Kremlin.
Even now, just before last week’s midterm election, security researchers at Comodo Group (comodo.com) discovered multiple malware attacks targeting voting in eight states in the U.S.
These malicious programs included trojans, ransomware ,and adware.
The three-pronged attack aimed to gather information on voters and stifle their ability to vote. As of last week’s election, the CIA and NSA were still investigating the attacks, in an attempt to determine the responsible parties.
Of the many reasons why outside interference in our elections should concern all citizens, perhaps the most important is that such blatant interference aggressively subverts our democratic government. Thus, it is tantamount to an act of war.
By influencing our elections, a foreign state can potentially tilt our majority to one aligning with their interests; an interest ahead of the interests of the American people.
It simultaneously hinders our ability to participate in a fair and accurate democratic process, by manipulating and weaponizing an individual citizen vote to further another nation’s agenda.
Foreign governments have also taken to social media as a means of swaying public opinion by dispersing false information.
In August of this year, bot accounts on Facebook and Twitter attempted to instigate friction regarding several political subjects. Following an investigation by Facebook, most of the accounts were found to be associated with organizations linked to Iran and Russia.
Moreover, hackers are so emboldened that that they utilize aggressive forms of malware to encrypt and hold files on vulnerable computers for ransom. In cases stemming from threats like TeslaCrypt ransomware — which is believed to come from foreign entities — victimized computer users are left with a system rendered nearly unusable and could be influenced to pay a hefty ransom.
This scenario can be potentially leveraged against the systems used for ballot tallying.
The influence campaigns, such as the ones carried out on social media, not only affect the electoral system but our unity as a country.
It doesn’t help matters that the U.S. is almost perpetually in a state of stark political divide.
The increase in animosity between the left and right of the political spectrum has also resulted in the rise of violent protests. An example of what can happen as a result of an overtly-emotional response was seen several weeks back when explosive devices were sent political figures: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, and others.
These propaganda operations add fuel to the fire by instigating and inciting mentally unstable political observers.
At the very core of democracy is the citizen’s vote. Millions of fallen Americans have fought and died to gain this right. Every legal-aged, law-abiding citizen should have an equal say in the direction of the country. If the voting process is undermined by foreign influence, it essentially mutes the voice of the populace.
This is precsisely why American intelligence agencies should step up enforcement of this cornerstone right. If steps are not taken to protect the validity of our votes, it can threaten the bedrock upon which the U.S. was founded, casting dark clouds on the legitimacy of our nation's government.
Therefore, American intelligence agencies should step up enforcement of this cornerstone.
We may find in the coming weeks, as final vote totals are tallied and the individual, statewide voting logs are audited, if any holes in our democracy were exploited.
Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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