Facebook’s Former Security Head Says U.S. Elections Are Still at Risk

September 4, 2018, 6:49 PM UTC

Facebook’s former head of information security, Alex Stamos, warned that U.S. elections may become the “World Cup of information warfare,” CNN reported Tuesday.

An expert in digital security, Stamos said the U.S. government is failing to address the issue of online hacking, going as far as comparing the problem to warfare.

“Two years after Pearl Harbor, the United States had quadrupled the size of our Navy. We were already on an unstoppable path to the Japanese home islands in the Pacific theater,” he told CNN. “Two years on from the election and people are still arguing whether we were even attacked and I find that amazing.”

The U.S. intelligence community agrees that Russian operatives used social media to influence the 2016 presidential election, but little has been done to prevent future meddling. Progress is hindered by the fact the president himself has waffled about who is responsible for the interference.

“That campaign to drive wedges into American society has not stopped,” said Stamos. “If anything, it has intensified.”

According to Stamos, political divides are preventing progress. He suggests Congress should pass legislation addressing false information online, and create a cybersecurity agency focused on protecting U.S. elections.

“The political polarization on election hacking is a horrible, horrible problem for the country,” said Stamos, adding that the issue continues because “we have not demonstrated that we will punish countries that do this to us and we have not addressed the fundamental issues that caused us to get here in the first place.”

Stamos’s statements come just before a number of tech leaders are set to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee about protecting their social media platforms from disinformation campaigns targeting the midterm elections. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are expected to attend.

While Stamos allegedly left his top position at Facebook over disputes about whether to disclose the extent of Russians interference on the platform, he maintains that Facebook did “all of the reasonable steps possible to stop what happened in 2016.” Last month, Facebook removed over 650 pages flagged with “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”