Russia is engaged in wide-ranging information warfare operations aimed at undermining the United States, and the federal government has few defenses against the attacks, information specialists told a Senate hearing last week.
Moscow’s large-scale operations include the covert attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election and dissemination of false news reports to sow confusion and weaken American democracy, according to testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday.
The committee hearing was called as part of an investigation into the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election.
In addition to the hacking and leaking campaign during the election, Russian intelligence agencies engaged in covert influence operations that falsely reported terrorist attacks in the United States and against the key U.S. military base in Incirlik, Turkey.
The Russian government also backed the Occupy Wall Street protest movement and trumpeted racially charged news to sow social unrest.
The federal government has been unable to stop Moscow’s propaganda and influence operations. Likewise, it has failed to counter cyber attacks aimed at stealing data or sabotaging critical networks.
“Americans should be concerned because right now a foreign country, whether they realize it or not, is pitting them against their neighbor, other political parties, ramping up divisions based on things that aren’t true,” said Clint Watts, a cyber security expert and former FBI special agent.