The Democratic National Committee will deploy cybersecurity and disinformation specialists to Iowa to counter potential attempts to electronically interfere in next week’s caucuses, the DNC said Wednesday.
Nellwyn Thomas, the DNC’s chief technology officer, said the team will run a rapid response operation from the Iowa Democratic Party’s main operations center in Des Moines, The Washington Post first reported.
Among the DNC team’s tasks will be responding to reports of possible hacking conducted against caucus technology, as well as countering disinformation about the contest spread on social media, the report said.
“All eyes are on Iowa,” said Ms. Thomas, the Post reported. “Any doubt about the outcome or especially about the legitimacy of the process could really cast a shadow, so we’re doing everything we can to be ready for it.”
The DNC confirmed the Post’s reporting when reached by The Washington Times, with a spokesperson for the party saying it has already held training exercises in several states to prepare for various security scenarios.
Held throughout the state Tuesday, Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus will play a pivotal role in Democratic presidential candidates deciding whether to continue seeking the party’s nod to run in November.
The nominating contest also provides ample opportunity for bad actors to try to interfere in the election process, however, which the U.S. government has warned foreign adversaries are inclined to attempt.
Russia interfered in the 2016 race won by President Trump in part by launching cyberattacks against election infrastructure and spreading disinformation online, according to the U.S. intelligence community.
More recently, the Trump administration warned late last year that other nations are expected to follow suit leading up to the 2020 elections.
“Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions,” reads a statement issued in November by seven federal agencies.
“Adversaries may try to accomplish their goals through a variety of means, including social media campaigns, directing disinformation operations or conducting disruptive or destructive cyberattacks on state and local infrastructure,” the statement said.
Ms. Thomas, the DNC’s top security official, stressed the significance of securing the Iowa caucuses while speaking to the Post, the newspaper reported.
“This is the highest stakes because what’s on the line is the will of the Democratic electorate, and there’s nothing more important than that,” she said. “The most important thing is making sure that we have truth and accuracy coming out of such an important milestone in our nomination process.”
“There’s a full spectrum of potential false narratives and we’re going to be monitoring all of them. What we’re really focused on is any false narrative about the legitimacy of the results,” she added. “That could be really detrimental to voters’ trust in this process.”
The DNC has previously held counter-disinformation training in Iowa and three other states with early nominating contests ahead of upcoming caucuses and primaries, a party spokesperson told The Times.