A joint Department of Defense and National Security Agency team has been reunited to oversee the security of the 2022 midterm elections.
The joint U.S. Cyber Command and NSA team is participating in a “whole-of-government effort” to protect domestic elections from foreign interference, the NSA said.
“This is an enduring, no-fail mission for U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, who bring unique insights and actions to the whole-of-government effort,” U.S. Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, Commander of USCYBERCOM and Director of NSA/Chief, Central Security Service, said. “Together, we bring speed and unity of effort against any foreign adversary who might seek to undermine our democratic institutions.”
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The joint group was established in 2018 following reports of meddling in the 2016 presidential election by Russia.
Earlier this year, the group announced it was reengaging in election security and will attempt to “disrupt, deter, and degrade foreign adversaries’ ability to interfere with and influence how U.S. citizens vote and how those votes are counted.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has reported that Russia, China and Iran are among the foreign state actors that might attempt to interfere in the 2022 midterm elections. Amid record-high levels of distrust of election results, the NSA said “such foreign activity can threaten to undermine fundamental principles of U.S. democracy and influence U.S. public sentiment.”
The Election Security Group (ESG) will be responsible for flagging warning signs coming from foreign adversaries and working with domestic agencies, such as the FBI, to prevent intrusions before they happen. The group will rely heavily on the NSA to battle foreign “cyber tradecraft.”
Under then-President Trump, the USCYBERCOM and NSA partnership was nearly killed, but the move was averted when a top Democrat said the move made him “profoundly concerned.”
The Department of Homeland Security said election security was a “critical infrastructure component” in 2017, the NSA said.