As part of its attempt to safeguard the 2018 midterms from Russian interference, U.S. Cyber Command blocked the internet access of Russian trolls on election day, according to The Washington Post.
The move was part of the United States’ first offensive cyber campaign aimed at thwarting Russian attempts to interfere in American elections, according to officials, and targeted the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg — “a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin.”
U.S. Cyber Command was given new authorities last year by President Donald Trump and Congress to combat foreign interference and “bolster offensive capabilities,” the Post noted.
Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) said the lack of interference in the midterms was not coincidental, telling the Post, “The fact that the 2018 election process moved forward without successful Russian intervention was not a coincidence.”
Rounds added that without Cyber Command’s efforts, there “would have been some very serious cyber incursions.”
Along with shutting down the Russian troll factory’s internet access on election day, the blackout was continued for the following day or so to “prevent the Russians from mounting a disinformation campaign that casts doubt on the results,” according to officials.
The trolls reportedly complained to their system administrators, frustrated by the disruption.
Cyber Command also targeted trolls with “direct messaging,” via emails, pop-ups, text or direct messages, informing them their real names and online handles were known to the U.S. and that they should not engage in foreign interference.