VOA reports how or the past several months, intelligence and security officials in the U.S. government and private sector have cautiously marveled at the seemingly slow pace of Russian cyberattacks and influence operations using social media.
Unlike in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, officials say so far there has been no frenzy of hacks, phishing attacks or use of ads and false news stories to penetrate voting systems, alter voter rolls or influence voters ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
Some have suggested the slowdown is the result of better preparation and better cyber tools that have allowed social media companies to thwart Russian efforts. But among Western intelligence agencies, there is also concern that Russia may not be relying on bots and trolls because they have real people who can do the work instead.
“We [Estonian intelligence] have detected a network of politicians, journalists, diplomats, business people who are actually Russian influence agents and who are doing what they are told to do,” Mikk Marran, the director general of Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said Friday, speaking of Moscow’s efforts in the West.
“We see clearly that those people are pushing Russia’s agenda,” Marran told an audience at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.