21 Items

A staff member in the Kweisi Mfume campaign uses gloves while holding a cell phone during an election night news conference at his campaign headquarters after Mfume, a Democrat, won Maryland’s 7th Congressional District special election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Baltimore.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Report

The Election Influence Operations Playbook, Part 1

| September 2020

Influence Operations (IO), also known as Information Operations, are a series of warfare tactics historically used to collect information, influence, or disrupt the decision making of an adversary. IO strategies intentionally disseminate information to manipulate public opinion and/or influence behavior. IO can involve a number of tactics, including spreading false information intentionally. This is known as “disinformation.”   

Skilled influence operations often deliberately spread disinformation in highly public places like social media. This is done in the hope that people who have no connection to the operation will mistakenly share this disinformation. Inaccurate information spread in error without malicious intent is known as “misinformation.” 

This playbook explores mis- and disinformation incidents that specifically focus on elections operations and infrastructure. Election officials may not often see or know what the motivation is behind the incidents encountered or whether they are mis- or disinformation. Throughout these guides we refer to mis/disinformation incidents together, as the strategies for countering or responding to them are the same.  

Voters wait in a line outside Broad Ripple High School to vote in the Indiana primary in Indianapolis, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 after coronavirus concerns prompted officials to delay the primary from its original May 5 date.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Report

The Election Influence Operations Playbook, Part 2

| September 2020

This section of the Playbook includes recommendations and materials focused on the response process. It will help election officials respond to election-related mis and disinformation incidents quickly and in a coordinated fashion. 

In this playbook, we refer to mis/disinformation throughout as one concept. Instances of both misinformation and disinformation in the elections process provide incorrect information to voters. Incorrect information can be conveyed intentionally or unintentionally. For election officials, any incorrect information, regardless of source or intention, presented to voters can pose a threat to elections, because it can undermine voters’ understanding of and trust in the election.

Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Midterm Campaigns Get Timely Cybersecurity Training in New Belfer Center Video

A practical training video for campaign staff and volunteers from all political parties, "Five Things" was produced by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs' bipartisan Defending Digital Democracy Project to help campaigns understand the importance of cybersecurity and learn what they can do about it.

A child waits for her mother to finish voting in a polling booth at the Nativity School on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Analysis & Opinions - Financial Times

America vs. the Hackers: a Cyber-Security Bootcamp

    Author:
  • Hannah Kuchler
| Apr. 26, 2018

It is a war game with a twist. Instead of army officers, election officials are in charge. Instead of battling against an enemy armed with missiles, defences are choreographed against hackers hidden behind foreign computers. With the US midterm elections fast approaching, more than 160 election officials from across the country have just months to learn how to defend democracy.

Defending Digital Democracy “Hackathon” finalists with Belfer Center Director and former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter​​​​​​​

Benn Craig/Belfer Center

News

National Student Hackathon Showcases Innovative Proposals to Thwart Cyberattacks and Information Operations

| March 30, 2018

“Honey bots” that counter malicious bots. An app called Sanity Check. Cyber Security Bonds. And technology that breaks the grip of online echo chambers. Those are just some of the ideas that college students from around the country presented Thursday in Cambridge as part of the Defending Digital Democracy Project’s first-ever Information Operations Technical and Policy Hack-a-thon.

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Building Cyber Defenses For U.S. Elections

| Spring 2018

Undaunted, a group of young civil servants is working directly with political operatives and state and local officials to fortify campaigns and elections against cyberattacks and information operations: Harvard Kennedy School students affiliated with the Belfer Center’s Defending Digital Democracy Project (D3P).

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Announcement - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

D3P Information Operations Technical and Policy Hackathon

The Defending Digital Democracy Project wants your help in solving one of the biggest problems facing democracy and our society—information operations intended to influence domestic opinion, inflame divisions, or undermine trust in institutions. There has been a lot of discussion in the media, academia, and policy circles about the dangers of information operations—like spreading information through fake social media personas to further social divisions and influence public behavior. But we need more than talk to stop this—we need action. That is what this contest is all about.

Voting machines in Miami Shores, Fla., Nov. 8, 2016.

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The State and Local Election Cybersecurity Playbook

| February 2018

This Playbook is intended for leaders at every level who play a role in running elections. While the future threats elections face are multifaceted, one principle stands clear: defending democracy depends on proactive leadership. This Playbook focuses on the U.S. experience, but it is also relevant to election officials around the world facing similar threats. We have designed it to identify risks and offer actionable solutions that will empower state and local election officials to protect democracy from those who seek to do it harm.