The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have warned UK political party leaders of the serious threat that Russian hacking poses to democratic processes. As a result, political leaders have called an emergency summit to brief parties on cyber security threats that may affect the next election.
The emergency summit comes after multiple accounts of Kremlin spies allegedly carrying out cyber attacks on U.S. and German elections. Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has offered advice on how to avoid and fend off these cyber attacks to all major UK political party leaders.
“This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on Parliament … and individuals’ email accounts,” Martin said in the message.
Just last month, Martin informed the public that over 188 cyber attacks, “many of which threatened national security,” were carried out on Britain within a three-month period. Anywhere from 75% to 80% of malicious cyber attacks come from within an organization, but the NCSC has been focused on blocking external attacks. According to chancellor Philip Hammond, the NCSC has been blocking potential attacks at a rate of almost 200 hacks per day.
Foreign minister Boris Johnson explained that, regarding the report, there is no hard evidence that suggests Russia is actively involved in malicious attacks on the democratic system right now. Despite that, Johnson has urged people to stay vigilant.
“What we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that,” he said on ITV television’s “Peston on Sunday.”
Intelligence agencies in the U.S. confirmed that Russia hacked and leaked communications from within the Democratic party in an effort to sway votes towards Donald Trump, all of which Russia still denies.
Such malicious attacks even made the French government reconsider plans to allow citizens living or traveling abroad to vote electronically this year. Concerns about cyber attacks — not just from Russia, either — have everyone’s tensions running high.