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Election hacking threat will not go away

November 2019 by GlobalData Technology reporter Ellen Daniel

With campaigning ahead of the US 2020 presidential election now in full swing, the threat of election hacking is once more a key topic of conversation. GlobalData Technology reporter Ellen Daniel spoke to Kevin Bocek, VP of security strategy and threat intelligence at cybersecurity firm Venafi to discover the motivations behind election hacking and whether the threat can ever be fully removed.

Bocek explains that the motivation of election hacking varies.

He says: “We might have adversaries that want to affect our confidence in the democratic system. They might want to create chaos. So it’s not just about having a certain outcome in an election.

“We’ve seen that people can be manipulated. Some might have been surprised at the methods that Russia used in the 2016 elections. It was classic disinformation and psych ops. The methods don’t have to be the traditional ‘I’m going to hack a voting machine’.”

Looking to the future, is it possible to pinpoint who is perpetrating the hacks? Bocek says: “Mounting an attack requires resources and a level of effort. That then points back to a certain set of adversaries that could have completed it. So if we see, for example, the likes of Russia trying to manipulate the elections, it’s most likely that it won’t be en-masse and we’ll be targeted in places that lead to a greater outcome.”

GlobalData’s Verdict says: “Ultimately, an acknowledgement that the threat of cybercriminals and nation-state attacks is one that will not go away is key.”

Bocek concludes: “I think it’s our ability to respond and to recover now, that’s as important as preventing the breach. So for example, how can we bring back that trust and confidence as soon as possible? These are things that haven’t been worked on at all. We’re still very much in the early stages.”

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