top of page

FBI warns Chinese hackers scanning state political parties

By Ines Kagubare

Updated November 11, 2022

China’s President Xi Jinping, center, sits after giving a speech during the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of China’s ruling Communist Party in Beijing, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. The overarching theme emerging from China’s ongoing Communist Party congress is one of continuity, not change. The weeklong meeting is expected to reappoint Xi as leader, reaffirm a commitment to his policies for the next five years and possibly elevate his status even further as one of the most powerful leaders in China’s modern history. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The FBI is warning Democratic and Republican state parties that Chinese hackers are scouring their headquarters for vulnerable systems they could potentially hack ahead of the midterms, The Washington Post reported.

According to U.S. officials the Post spoke to, FBI agents in field offices have notified several Democratic and Republican headquarters across the country that they might be targets of potential Chinese hacking as the election approaches.

The officials, however, said that none of the political state parties have been hacked or breached.

“[This is] part of a larger move that the FBI isn’t waiting for the attack to occur,” a U.S. official told the Post.

Emma Vaughn, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee (RNC), told The Hill in an email that the RNC is secure and has not been compromised.

“Cybersecurity remains a top priority for the entire Republican ecosystem, which is why we place a premium on ensuring our stakeholders have the necessary tools, resources, and training on best practices so that our Party remains protected and vigilant,” Vaughn said.

A Democratic National Committee official told the Hill that the DNC has been in contact with the FBI and that “there is no evidence that any systems have been compromised.”

U.S. officials have repeatedly said that they are not aware of any credible or specific threats that would compromise or disrupt the election system.

Earlier this month, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a joint advisory that said any attempts to compromise the election system are “unlikely” to cause large-scale disruptions or prevent voting.

The agencies also said that any attempts to manipulate votes at scale will be detected and thwarted.

A recent report from cybersecurity firm Recorded Future said that China’s state-sponsored groups are likely conducting “malign influence operations” targeting U.S. voters in an attempt to further divide the country along party lines ahead of the midterms elections.

The report also said that China will likely retaliate in the U.S. midterms as a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan in August.

“China likely views electoral interference and voter influence ahead of the US midterm elections as an appropriate response to the US’s perceived interference with Taiwan,” the report read.

The visit was strongly condemned by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said the trip “gravely undermines peace and stability” will have “a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry and presidential office were hit with cyberattacks the week Pelosi visited the island. Although it’s unclear who was behind the cyberattacks, some experts blamed Chinese activist hackers.

The FBI declined to comment on the matter. The Hill also has reached out to the Democratic National Committee for comment.

This story was updated at 1:25 p.m.


bottom of page