The FBI today launched a webpage on combating foreign influence. This information is provided to educate the public about the threats faced from disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks, and the overall impact of foreign influence on society. The FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating foreign influence operations.
In the fall of 2017, Director Christopher Wray established the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) to identify and counteract malign foreign influence operations targeting the United States.
Foreign influence operations—which include covert actions by foreign governments to influence U.S. political sentiment or public discourse—are not a new problem. But the interconnectedness of the modern world, combined with the anonymity of the Internet, have changed the nature of the threat and how the FBI and its partners must address it. The goal of these foreign influence operations directed against the United States is to spread disinformation, sow discord, and, ultimately, undermine confidence in our democratic institutions and values.
Foreign influence operations have taken many forms and used many tactics over the years. Most widely reported these days are attempts by adversaries—hoping to reach a wide swath of Americans covertly from outside the United States—to use false personas and fabricated stories on social media platforms to discredit U.S. individuals and institutions.
Other influence operations by adversaries include:
- Targeting U.S. officials and other U.S. persons through traditional intelligence tradecraft
- Criminal efforts to suppress voting and provide illegal campaign financing
- Cyber attacks against voting infrastructure, along with computer intrusions targeting elected officials and others
As part of the combating foreign influence webpage, the FBI is launching the Protected Voices initiative—in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence—which includes the release of a number of short videos on the most urgent cybersecurity issues that may leave a political campaign’s computer networks vulnerable to attacks. The videos include tips and best practices on how best to protect computer networks, based on industry research and the FBI’s vast experience investigating cyber crimes.
But even beyond political campaigns, the cybersecurity information contained in these videos will be helpful to anyone who uses a computer.