Information Operations are designed to achieve military or diplomatic objectives through means other than the force of arms. The goal is often to influence the adversary's will and control the narrative. Targets can include military combatants, as well as civilians.
Today, most people are focused only on misinformation, but the denial of true information can be as dangerous as the prevalence of false information.
Mark Twain said, "a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on." Elections officials need to be thinking about the availability of accurate information as much as how to deal with false information.
In the cybersecurity realm, DDoS is the weapon of choice for denying information availability. NETSCOUT saw about 2.8 million attacks in the first half of 2018 and attack peak sizes have skyrocketed to the terabit-level. DDoS attacks have never been more innovative, dynamic, or consequential, and there could be even more dangerous DDoS attacks on the horizon.
For candidates, getting your message out to voters is critical to your campaign. Having no information reach voters is almost as bad as having false information reach them. For example, several DDoS attacks took down a congressional candidate’s website during this year’s California primary election. The most damaging was timed to coincide with a candidates’ debate, to prevent interested voters from visiting the candidate’s website to learn more. Now it seems like the FBI is investigating the incident, which certainly raises the stakes.
Similarly, elections officials, including Secretaries of State and County Registrars, must work to ensure timely and accurate election information reaches the public. This includes securing websites and any associated infrastructure and critical nodes in the supply chain. Several vendors, including NETSCOUT, are offering free services this elections cycle to assist with this effort.
Failing to take these challenges seriously risks ceding the narrative of accurate information to adversaries. Once that narrative is lost, it can be very hard to recover.