FBI Portland
Portland Media Office
(503) 460-8060
October 27, 2020

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Election Spoofing

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Last week, we talked about some ways that the FBI’s Protected Voices campaign can help you spot misinformation and disinformation this election season.

Now, we are just one week away from Election Day, and we have some more tips on dealing with how bad actors can use spoofing to try to impact your vote.

Foreign actors and cybercriminals use spoofed domains and email accounts to appear legitimate. Through them, the bad actors can disseminate false information; gather valid usernames, passwords, and email addresses; collect personally identifiable information; and spread malware, leading to further compromises and potential financial losses.

Cyber actors set up spoofed domains with slightly altered characteristics of legitimate domains. A spoofed domain may feature an alternate spelling of a word (“electon" instead of "election”), or use "[.]com" in place of "[.]gov.”

Members of the public could unknowingly visit spoofed domains while seeking information regarding the 2020 election. Additionally, cyber actors may use a seemingly legitimate email account to entice the public into clicking on malicious files or links.

The FBI urges all Americans to critically evaluate the websites they visit and the emails sent to their personal and business email accounts and to seek out reliable and verified information on the election.

Here are some other recommendations:

  • Verify the spelling of web addresses and email addresses that look trustworthy but may, in reality, just be close imitations of legitimate election websites.
  • Seek out information from trustworthy sources, verifying who produced the content and considering their intent. One option: the Election Assistance Commission (https://www.eac.gov), a group that provides a vast amount of verified information and resources.
  • Ensure operating systems and applications are updated to the most current versions.
  • Update anti-malware and anti-virus software and conduct regular network scans.
  • Use strong two-factor authentication if possible, via biometrics (such as face or fingerprint scans), hardware tokens, or authentication apps.
  • Do not open emails or attachments from unknown individuals. Do not communicate with unsolicited email senders.
  • Never provide personal information of any sort via email.

The FBI is responsible for investigating malign foreign influence operations and malicious cyber activity targeting election infrastructure and other U.S. democratic institutions.

Report potential federal election crimes to the FBI. In Oregon, you can call us at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. Finally, learn more about how you can protect your vote with the FBI’s Protected Voices campaign. You can find more resources at www.fbi.gov/protectedvoices or www.fbi.gov/elections.