The Department of Homeland Security recently warned that the threat from foreign terrorist organizations and cyber threats from adversaries such as Russia, including election interference, is likely to increase in 2022, according to an intelligence analysis obtained by ABC News.
The document, titled “Key Threats to the Homeland in 2022” and dated June 8, states that the biggest threat to the United States this year comes from lone wolf actors and small groups of individuals motivated by a framework of extremist beliefs such as supposed sniper. in Buffalo, New York, who is currently facing hate crimes charges for killing 10 African-American shoppers at a supermarket. Federal law enforcement agencies, including DHS and the Department of Justice, have previously prioritized fighting domestic violent extremism since the beginning of the Biden administration.
But DHS has also warned of the potential for a resurgence of foreign terrorism due to relaxing pandemic travel restrictions and said they will be “highly visible” online – focused on inspirational messages from local terrorism.
“Foreign terrorists will likely continue to hone their skills to facilitate international travel, expand their networks, raise funds, and ultimately organize to improve their ability to reach the United States and homeland,” the bulletin reads. “While some travel has most likely been reduced by COVID-19 travel restrictions, we anticipate a growing threat from these actors in 2022 as travel restrictions are relaxed.”
Some with terrorist connections may try to travel to the United States and apply for tourist visas, says the DHS.
“What this assessment reinforces is other intelligence indicating that the US continues to experience unacceptable levels of violence by individuals inspired by extremist content promoted online by a diverse range of foreign and domestic threat actors,” said John Cohen, a contributor to ABC News and former interim. undersecretary of intelligence and analysis at the DHS. “Law enforcement officials are particularly concerned about the potential for acts of violence aimed at law enforcement, elections and other elected officials due to increased calls for violence by domestic violent extremists.”
Threats to the country’s cyberspace come from three countries according to the DHS: China, Russia and Iran, according to the assessment. Russia will continue to target critical US infrastructure through various cyberattacks and sow discord in the country, as in previous elections, according to the DHS, in some cases taking advantage of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.
“Russian malign influence actors will likely try to dissuade US voters from participating in the 2022 midterm elections using similar tactics employed during the 2020 and 2016 presidential elections, such as targeting the public with false information about voting logistics, exacerbating racial tensions and levy attacks or praise on candidates of any political party,” the memo read.
“Russia could likely use emerging technologies to enhance its cyber and malign influence efforts when trying to affect the outcome of US elections. For example, advances in artificial intelligence enable automated data analysis, classification, creation and manipulation of digital content, which could be deployed in future disinformation campaigns and foreign malign influence.”
Russia, according to the Department, incorporates intelligence officers “to establish shell companies and recruit Russian emigrants and US citizens to steal confidential US academic, government, and business information.”
“It is a threat environment in which a diverse range of foreign and domestic threat actors use Internet-based communication platforms to spread content designed to sow discord, inspire violence, undermine trust in government institutions and achieve other illicit goals,” he said. Cohen, from ABC. News contributor said.
Chinese state-sponsored actors “aggressively attack US political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to steal sensitive data, key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information.”
The department estimated that PRC-sponsored hackers compromised at least 30,000 organizations by exploiting an email server, says the DHS.
“We assess that the PRC will seek to engage in a range of activities to support policies favorable to Beijing and its interests and will likely prioritize anti-U.S. public messages in the run-up to the midterm elections to influence favorable political outcomes to Beijing,” said the DHS. it says.
China’s evil influence campaign “uses at least 30 social media platforms and more than 40 niche websites and forums in multiple languages including English, Russian, German, Spanish, Korean and Japanese to target US audiences.”
Furthermore, ransomware will continue to increase, according to the DHS, because it has been lucrative for cybercriminals.
“We estimate that ransomware attacks targeting US networks and infrastructure will increase in the short and long term because cybercriminals have developed effective business models to increase their financial gain, likelihood of success and anonymity,” the Department says.
The newsletter was first reported by the Daily Beast.