From the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s discovery of a cyber attack on the country’s three main political parties months before the parliamentary election, to the European Union’s cyber incident exercise ahead of the May elections, it’s clear that securing democratic processes from manipulation and malicious cyber activities is a global priority.
Amidst the ambition to safeguard citizens’ trust in the digital age, discussions about classifying election systems and processes as critical infrastructure go hand in hand with measures for greater transparency in online political advertising and targeting. To counter this threat, providing expert cyber security advice to political parties and electoral bodies is essential, as well as recommending how they can ensure high levels of security in their systems and processes.
In the US, determination to defend the democratic system and ensure fair and free elections most recently manifested in a new federal law, proposed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to address gaps in election security. The new bill will remove cyber security measures from the $49,600 donation cap currently placed on political parties, allowing greater access to financial assistance for cyber security issues.
James Jordan, National Sales Director at NCC Group said: “This new bill is certainly a good step in tackling cyber security issues across the US election system.
“Bipartisan legislation that addresses the most pressing electoral issues is necessary for cyber risk to be taken seriously on a national level. Although this bill is certainly a start, central policies and guidelines that specifically address changes to infrastructure and establish high security standards at state and federal level are necessary to enact change nationwide.
“The next step is to address the infrastructure that is in place across many of the electronic voting systems throughout the country, which without improvement could lead to systemic vulnerabilities that domestic and foreign threat actors alike could take advantage of. Mandatory cyber security standards would certainly go some way to rectify this.
“Protecting democratic processes from cyber threats is a global concern, and it’s encouraging to see some headway being made to address this. With more collaboration – across parties, countries and continents – a safer and more secure future might be achieved.”