Chris Krebs is gone but his firing may not be the last

Gordon Corera
Security correspondent, BBC News
@gordoncoreraon Twitter

Publishedduration1 hour agoRelated Topics

  • US election 2020

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionPresident Trump said in a tweet that Chris Krebs had been fired for his "highly inaccurate" remarks on vote integrity

Chris Krebs knew his mission this year was to protect the integrity of the US election – but he might not have predicted the way that would cost him his job.

For well over a year, Mr Krebs and his cyber-security team had been gaming scenarios about what could go wrong. At one point, he said his greatest fear was that voter registration databases might be interfered with to stop people voting.

He also talked about the concern that on election night, media organisations might be hacked to prevent people knowing the results and create confusion.

The experience of Russian hacking and interference in 2016 had led the whole US national security community to prepare for a re-run in 2020. But in the end that was a threat that never materialised.

Perhaps that was because of the defensive work by Mr Krebs and colleagues or perhaps because of the way the National Security Agency went on the offensive against hackers in Russia and elsewhere to deter and stop them.

But it was also perhaps because foreign actors decided they did not need to do very much to stir up divisions – since they were so deeply entrenched inside America already.

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The fear of misinformation led to the establishment of the Rumour Control website under Mr Krebs and this brought him into conflict with his own president.

Votes had been cast by dead people and were being counted. False, the site said.

A bad actor could change results without detection. Again, false, it said, providing details of why that could not be the case.

If results change in the days after the initial count, they cannot be trusted and have been compromised. Again, a big red cross on the website indicated this was not true.

This all directly contradicted assertions that Donald Trump and some of his allies were relying on to challenge the integrity of the result.

President Trump himself cited reports that a particular voting machine had deleted 2.7 million votes, while his campaign suggested dead people had voted in Georgia.

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