A hot potato: Russian and Iranian hacker groups are working overtime to undermine the U.S. presidential elections. This is according to a report by the New York Times that highlights some unsettling findings by U.S. intelligence agencies. It reveals that the groups of hackers have been able to infiltrate American aviation and electoral systems in recent weeks.

According to security officials, both Russia and Iran have a vested interest in the presidential elections, with Russia supporting a Trump re-election. Hacker groups have apparently gained access to some voter records and security agencies say that the information will most likely be used to aid propaganda campaigns against American presidential candidates.

According to a statement issued by John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, "this data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy."

While Russia pushes for another Trump presidency, the Iranians have been caught sending spoofed emails disparaging the US president.

The latest attack campaign reportedly began in September. A Russian state-sponsored group that goes by the codenames Berserk Bear, Havex, and Koala has been identified as the main perpetrators. The unit is said to be scanning US system networks for loopholes to facilitate future vector attacks. It mainly targets Microsoft Exchange and Citrix systems.

John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence says stolen information will be used to undermine US elections. (Image: Politico)

A joint statement by the FBI along with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends that government institutions across the nation implement stringent mitigation measures to prevent attacks.

The inter-agency guidance particularly recommends that they use updated VPNs, and network security infrastructure. The agencies also ask that government organizations install the latest security patches.

US intelligence officials had previously warned about state-sponsored hackers seeking unauthorized access to local and state government systems. The report, however, refrained from naming Russia and Iran.