Ratcliffe said Iran was responsible for spoofed emails that appeared to come from a far-right group and threatened Democratic voters, adding that they were intended to damage President Donald Trump an assertion that drew criticisms from Democrats, who accused the Trump administration of trying to conflate the interference threat posed by Russia and Iran.
Neither of the warnings issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency suggested that Russian or Iranian hackers have compromised US election systems. But past attacks should have the public on alert, officials said.
Iranian attackers have previously impersonated legitimate media to spread anti-American propaganda meant to disrupt the election, the warnings said. Iranians have also allegedly used distributed denial-of-service attacks, database attacks and phishing campaigns to sow chaos.
Russian state-sponsored attackers, meanwhile, have attempted to penetrate “dozens” of state and local government and aviation networks, the warnings said.
“As of October 1, 2020, [Russian attackers] exfiltrated data from at least two victim servers,” the alert said.
Ratcliffe said at his news conference that the intelligence community was alerting the public to the actions Iran and Russia had taken to interfere in the election.
“We have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump,” Ratcliffe said, adding that the US government had not seen the same actions from Russia but was “aware that they have obtained some voter information just as they did in 2016.”