SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Iranians and Russians stole United States voter information according to a new report released Wednesday. Officials say the countries are using the information in a wave of cyber-attacks aimed to discredit the election process with disinformation.

Sergeant Jeff Plank is with the Department of Public Safety and State Bureau of Investigations. He is assigned to the FBI Cyber Task Force to look into internet crimes.

“The Department of Homeland Security has said that some of the Top 3 are the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians,” says Sgt. Plank.

The countries goal is simple.

“Essentially cause chaos in our country, to divide our nation, and to discredit our election process,” he says.

On Wednesday evening, the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told the American Public, “We have already seen Iran sending spoof emails designed to intimidate voters.”

Most strategies include misinformation and disinformation.

Misinformation is false information shared unintentionally.

“So we see something on the internet; on Facebook; on Twitter; it interests us, we think it is crazy, shocking, it’s not true, but we just share it, retweet it. That is misinformation,” says Sgt. Plank.

Disinformation is false information knowingly shared to deceive people.

ABC4 News Investigator Jason Nguyen talking with Sgt. Jeff Plank

ABC4 News Investigator Jason Nguyen asked if it is easy for people to believe disinformation? Sgt. Plank says, “Absolutely, yeah. Sometimes the more shocking it is the more people will believe it is true because how could something so shocking not be true?”

He goes on to say, “If we don’t know that the information is accurate and then when we re-share that, we are disseminating disinformation which can lead to an election outcome that is possibly incorrect.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray tells us, “We are not going to tolerate forgiven interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote.”

Officials say if you’re questioning the information online, do a quick search to see if it is true. In return, the search should help you avoid clicking a link that can put malware on your computer.

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