Experts call for international cooperation against election cyber attacks

The ability of hackers to attack has improved, and it is easier than ever for them to obtain their tools, which makes them even more dangerous.”

January 27, 2019 16:27
1 minute read.
A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him

A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him. (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)


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Governments around the world must join forces to detect the sources of foreign cyberattacks aimed at impacting elections and prevent such intervention in the future, Israel Democracy Institute and Hebrew University researchers said Sunday.

They spoke after Russian cyberattacks reportedly impacted elections in the US, France and Germany and in the British referendum on exiting the European Union.

The researchers from IDI and the Law and Cyber Program at the Federman Center for Cyber Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke at IDI on the subject of cyberattacks and foreign intervention in the April 9 election. They issued recommendations for implementing policies and regulating the chain of command between law enforcement agencies on this issue.

The ability of hackers to attack has improved, and it is easier than ever for them to obtain their tools, which makes them even more dangerous,” said former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) technological division head Ron Shamir.

International cooperation against election cyberattacks was one of 15 recommendations for the Israeli government to implement as soon as possible, outlined at the event by former Shin Bet security agency legal adviser Eli Bahar.

Bahar also recommended making it a crime to collude with a foreign authority in order to impact elections.

The researchers made reference to Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman’s warnings of foreign interference taking place in the current election.

They said such declarations must come from the head of the Central Elections Committee, who is independent, and not the head of the Shin Bet, who is subordinate to the prime minister, who is a political actor.

“The apolitical Central Elections Committee should be responsible for preventing foreign influence in elections,” Bahar said. “The National Security Council should build an overarching plan for defending elections from foreign interference.”

The recommendations also include making the Knesset Guard responsible for defending MKs and aides from cyberattacks, defining the role of the National Cyber Authority, forbidding using personal information for political micro-targeting and declaring an election process “critical national infrastructure,” as the US did.

A final recommendation was that the “Start-Up Nation” should continue its hacking proof, low-tech voting system: Simple pieces of paper with no computers.

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