It was Iranian hackers who emailed death threats to U.S. election officials in mid-December 2020 and spewed disinformation through a website the crew created called Enemies of the People, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber wing said.
The FBI and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) announced in a recent notice that they have “highly credible” information that Iranian cyber gangsters were “almost certainly responsible” for the life threatening emails sent not only to federal government officials but also private sector individuals associated with the 2020 national election. The website, which is currently inactive, accused U.S. officials involved in election security of “treason.” One of the pages was hosted in Russia but as yet there is no clear evidence that connects the offensive to Russian hackers, Reuters reported.
Election officials targeted by the hackers include current FBI director Christopher Wray and former CISA head Christopher Krebs, who was unceremoniously fired by President Trump after he publicly affirmed the election was secure. “The post-election creation of the Enemies of the People website demonstrates an ongoing Iranian intent to create divisions and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the U.S. electoral process,” the agencies said.
Hackers sent emails from multiple domains and posted on an assortment of social media accounts exposing personal information, some home addresses and photographs of the targeted people with rifle cross hairs superimposed on them, U.S. law enforcement and cybersecurity officials charged.
As odious as are the emails, the hack most assuredly didn’t catch FBI and CISA officials off guard. Months earlier both agencies had sternly warned in two alerts that Iranian cyber infiltrators are poised to launch offensives to derange the 2020 elections. And, immediately following the purportedly hack-free election, a senior CISA official said that the threat of disinformation and other foreign interference efforts “extends well into the next month or two. There is no spiking the football here. We are acutely focused on the mission at hand. We are aggressively looking for any activity that could interfere with the election, and that is going to be our mission for the foreseeable future.”
In response, an Iranian official denied to Reuters that Iran is “involved in inciting violence and creating unrest in the United States.”