The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of any person who, while acting at the direction of or under the control of a foreign government, interferes with any United States federal, state, or local election by violating section 1030 of title 18. Certain malicious cyber operations targeting election or campaign infrastructure can implicate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, which criminalizes unauthorized computer intrusions and other forms of fraud related to computers. Among other offenses, the statute prohibits unauthorized accessing of computers to obtain information and transmit it to unauthorized recipients.
The ability of persons, as well as foreign powers, to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States (Executive Order No. 13848, September 12, 2018). For example, foreign adversaries could employ malicious cyber operations targeting election infrastructure, including voter registration databases and voting machines, to impair an election in the United States. Such adversaries could also conduct malicious cyber operations against U.S. political organizations or campaigns to steal confidential information and then leak that information as part of influence operations to undermine political organizations or candidates.