As the 2018 midterm election season heats up across the country, U.S. government officials say they’ve yet to see digital attacks by Russia on the scale of the 2016 presidential election–but cybersecurity experts warn that it’s too early to tell, noting that it’s still early in the election cycle. “Right now, there are no indications that Russia is targeting the 2018 U.S. midterms at a scale or scope to match their activities in 2016,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the National Association of Secretaries of State on Saturday.
President Trump himself appeared at first to go even further, at first saying “no” in response to a reporter’s question Wednesday about whether Russia was still targeting U.S. elections and infrastructure, only for White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to later claim he was simply declining to answer the question. That came just a few days after an appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which saw Trump widely criticized for appearing to reject claims of Russian hacking altogether, though he would claim later in the week that he had misspoken.
And just a few days later, Microsoft vice president for customer security Tom Burt told the Aspen Security Forum that the election cycle hasn’t been completely devoid of Russian interference: the software company has worked with government officials to foil attacks on three candidates who “because of their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint, as well as an election disruption standpoint,” Quartz reports. The candidates were targeted with phishing attacks using domain names designed to imitate Microsoft sites. Still, Burt said, overall, “the consensus of the threat intelligence community right now is that we’re not seeing the same level of activity by the Russian activity groups” as in 2016.