With the General Election date rapidly approaching and many people reading a range of material to help them make their voting decision, it is important to understand the potential Cyber Security risks involved.
Cyber Threats can have dramatic impacts on every aspect of life, from personal day to day life to business to government, it is important to understand the risk.

In terms of an election, potential Cyber Threats can involve the creation of false information and attacks, such as unauthorised users attempting to gain access to devices or networks.
These threats originate from a variety of groups with varying levels of sophistication and different motivations, such as financial gain, information gathering or election influence.
These risks are amplified this year, with over 40 countries representing 40% of the world’s population set to hold national elections.

In the UK, the Government have a body called the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) that provides the public and organisations with cyber advice. They have highlighted that since the last General Election in 2019, the risks have evolved significantly due to a range of reasons, including:

  • The emergence of new groups of cyber criminals, including ones with political motivation.
  • Technological advancements, such as in artificial intelligence (AI), make it easier for those with basic IT skills to generate and spread false or manipulated information.
  • A rise in cybercrime and a change in its character, such as the gangs selling cyber attacks as a service, making cybercrime easier for those without the relevant skills.
  • A changing

Cyber Crime Rises
Cybercrime refers to a variety of things but in a nutshell it is any crime that is committed through the use of online devices either as a primary source for the crimes execution or as an aid to grow the scale of the crime.

With50% of UK businesses and 32% of charities reporting a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months, it is critical to understand and recognise the risk.

In August 2023, the Electoral Commission revealed that it had been the subject of a complex cyber-attack. This attack included the breach of confidential information, including the personal details of individuals on the electoral register (registered to vote). Whilst it has been stated that this breach did not share what people voted for or affect their registration status, it has still had a lasting impact on people’s trust and the reputation of the electoral commission. This highlights the size of the current threat landscape and the reputational effect of cybercrime, regardless if it causes any measurable damage.

In terms of the election, one of the biggest risks is the use of cybercrime and cyber-fraud tactics to spread disinformation. Disinformation is defined by the UK Government as the ‘deliberate creation and spreading of false and/or manipulated information that is intended to deceive and mislead people, either for the purpose of causing harm or for political, personal or financial gain’.
Disinformation is increasingly spreading via social media, and with recent technological advancements, it can be made using AI to mimic individuals in both audio and video. This has seen a rise in faked videos of party members making outrageous statements to try and harm their campaign.

Challenges to overcome

Whilst the challenges to overcome are huge, they will not disappear after the election, making it important to continue to understand and react to them effectively.

To keep yourself and your business safe from damaging reputational losses or falling victim to disinformation, it is important to understand your infrastructure, how to protect it, how to recognise disinformation, and how to find reliable sources.

We can help! CTRL-S offers our extensive Cyber Wise service, with regular training courses designed by our team of experts on the latest changes to the Cyber Threat landscape. Our service also includes a software toolkit and monitoring for your infrastructure to help detect and block suspicious behaviour as it happens. Get in touch today to see how we can help.

 

 

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