The Justice Department announced Thursday it will now notify the public of foreign hacking operations targeting U.S. elections, a new policy implemented in the wake of Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Under the new policy, the government will inform companies, organizations and individuals if it suspects they are under a cyberattack by foreign operatives seeking to disrupt elections.
The Justice Department will now “alert the victims and unwitting targets of foreign influence activities when appropriate and consistent with the Department’s policies and practices.”
However, Justice conceded it may not be “possible or prudent” to inform victims in certain contexts. It also said it will only publicly disclose threats when it attributes a cyberattack to a foreign government “with high confidence.”
The Justice Department reported the policy shift in the first report by its new Cyber-Digital Task Force.
The report was released just three days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and nearly a week after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russians accused of election meddling.
Furthermore, the report said the Justice Department must stay aware of efforts by foreign nations to interfere in U.S. politics, noting that Russia/the Soviet Union did so throughout the 20th century.
“The Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election is just one tree in a growing forest,” Mr. Rosenstein said announcing the report’s contents.
On Thursday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, called Russia the most aggressive actor when it comes to cyberattacks, but added there may be multiple foreign states or groups trying to undermine U.S. elections.
In the report, the Justice Department vowed to “aggressively investigate and prosecute foreign influence cases and promised to work with other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security to share information about threats.