The following is a transcript of an interview with cybersecurity expert and CBS News analyst Chris Krebs that aired on Sunday, October 2, 2022.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Now we’re joined by the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs. Good morning. Good thing you’re here in person.


MARGARET BRENNAN: First, I want to ask you about the hurricane response, because you were involved back in 2017 in the response to Hurricane Maria, which just devastated Puerto Rico. What are the biggest challenges you see right now for both this island and this devastation in Florida?

KREBS: Well, I think the first problem is devastation, as you mentioned, what structures, what communities can actually take power, I think in general, and speaking to the task forces to restore power, they’ve done a good job of organizing resources that direct liners and crews to areas that can actually be restored. But as you heard from the mayor and the administrator, there are districts that just can’t take power right now. And it will take time to assess whether they are being judged or not. And yes, but again, you know, the power teams did a good job in Florida. And they actually, I think, did a good job in Puerto Rico, and also after Fiona, if you look at, you know, 10 days after Fiona, 90% of the power is restored. It took Maria about seven months.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And they’re still very much in the process of recovering Mary.

KREBS: Yeah, you know, I think they’ve done a better job of management and investment and maintenance over the last few years. But now they’re in a position where I think they need to think about upgrading the system because there’s still a pretty outdated, old system and they really need to move forward with that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about infrastructure, aside from the hurricane, of course, the midterm elections are 36 days away. You have a big movement right now folks in Florida, will that affect your ability to hold an election?

KREBS: There are plans, and you know, we heard the senator talk about Hurricane Michael in 2018, which devastated Mexico Beach. There are rules and systems that allow some flexibility in the conduct of elections. And they ensure that those who want to vote can vote. If I’ve seen anything, it’s that representatives of election commissions are natural crisis managers and have a very good steady side.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they should be right now, given all the pressure on them. Switching to the cyber front, so you were in office during the 2018 midterm elections, and Cyber ​​Command was pretty clear that they went on the offensive to protect our midterm races at that time, removing Russian operatives to curb the spread of disinformation. We know they’re keeping an eye on what’s happening this year. What does it look like? What does protecting our elections look like from foreign interference?

KREBS: Well, you know, when I look at the concerns around the 2022 midterm elections, I have three main areas of, you know, focus. First, it is a constant internal effort to undermine the process of the workers’ strike. The second is an increase in the risk of insider information. And as all of this manifests itself in political instability within the country, it provides a lot of opportunities and a surface for the bad guys to attack. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen foreign actors, meaning we’ve seen the Iranians, we’ve seen the Russians, and even recently we’ve seen the Chinese begin to adopt some of the Russian plans, and it’s almost a Russification of Chinese information operations. So what I would look for is more, you know, plagiarism of domestic issues and driving wedges into the discourse here in the US, probably not production or new narratives or anything like that, but instead of really touch on the issues we’re already talking about here. And just making them a lot more heated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Meta took down a small Chinese network that was trying to influence the election, that’s Facebook’s domain.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this a major platform for disinformation?

KREBS: Well, I think they use a few different methods. And it’s the Chinese again, still quite rudimentary and fixable in terms of China’s influence operations. Once they are a little more advanced. I think that’s where they’ll probably have the most impact. But it’s not just online. It’s not just social media platforms. They actually work at the local level, supporting individual candidates. And these are some reports, I think they may appear in the near future, but it is the Chinese who have been very, very active at the local level of corruption, where the Russians are more focused on the top, you know, more destructive activities of the electoral process. A good friend in the intelligence community said that Russia is a hurricane, China’s climate change in the sense of political interference.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Kind of like a slow crawling motion coming towards you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to go back, you said insider risk to the US election. What do you mean?

KREBS: Well, we’re actually seeing actual voters who have been caught up in the ongoing effort to delegitimize the 2020 election, and now they’re on the inside. They present a danger that we saw in Mesa County, Colorado, Coffey County, Georgia, Antrim County, Michigan, where workers allowed unauthorized people to gain access to the system to access equipment. And even the other day in the primary, we saw an employee plug a USB drive into a car, and now those systems have been put into service or disabled. So we’re actually, not just the threats of foreign intervention, which I think we really had to think about in the 18th and 20th. Now we have real insiders, we have election workers who are endangering the process itself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it’s horrible. Why — for anyone who’s been in a role like you — it’s such a balance sheet, how much PR do you do, how much attention do you get, and at what point does that undermine credibility rather than increase confidence in integrity?

KREBS: That’s the problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the administration doing enough of what you just laid out?

KREBS: Well, unfortunately, I don’t think there are many tools available right now to counter both threats to poll workers. And we continue to see death threats and intimidation against election workers, but the election workers themselves have again been implicated in the process. Therefore, the tools are not necessarily there. We really need local law enforcement, and I think they need to be more involved in investigating threats, protecting the voters themselves, making sure that they’re not being tampered with, or that their public information or their personal contact information isn’t being released so that they can get. .. get more threats. So I think Congress needs to take a hard look at this area to see if there is a need for deterrence from the criminal law. And do we have an investigation method? This, you know, I personally received a significant number of death threats and other threats. And some of them come through anonymous means like protonmail. We need more attention to these threats. Otherwise, we will face a shortage of electoral personnel.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s a pretty serious warning. Chris, thanks for joining us.