It’s been almost a year since Election Day 2016, but the campaign news hasn’t stopped. October 30th brought the first indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. On Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter faced congressional grilling over widespread Russian influence on their platforms. Also on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice is considering charging Russian government officials for crimes related to the Democratic National Committee hack. Amid the flurry, it’s easy to blur these conversations—especially because they all seem to feature Russia. But the election-hacking conversation desperately needs to be untangled. Whatever other revelations may come, it helps to remember that election hacking is really about three separate threats: hacking voters, hacking votes, and causing disruption or chaos.
Manipulating or hacking voters means influencing how a person will vote. The cybersecurity autopsy of the election shows pretty definitively that Russian agents attempted this. A January report from the FBI, NSA, and CIA stated that “Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.'”
Tech companies are still investigating the reach of Russian-bought ads on their platforms, but it’s clear it was huge—Facebook estimates that Kremlin-linked content reached as many as 126 million users.
Full Article: How Can an Election be Hacked? – Pacific Standard.