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Elections vulnerable to cyber threats, say surveyed cyber pros

Majority of IT security professionals believe that the spread of disinformation is greatest risk to election security, Venafi survey finds.

Europe’s democratic processes are exposed to interference and attack by cyber threats, a poll of IT security practitioners has warned. Seventy percent of those polled at the RSA Conference 2020 for a survey by machine identity protection specialist Venafi believe their local governments ‘cannot adequately defend election infrastructure against domestic and international cyber attacks’.

The survey also found that 75% of respondents believe that the spread of disinformation is now the ‘greater threat to election integrity’.

“IT security professionals are rightly concerned about cyber threats impacting the democratic process. The election ‘season’ is already in process, and the Coronavirus pandemic adds a new layer of security complications,” says Kevin Bocek, VP of Security Strategy & Threat Intelligence at Venafi. “Cyber attackers may take advantage of this period of uncertainty to further undermine public confidence by spreading disinformation. As a result, it is not surprising that many security experts are concerned that governments will not be able to safeguard election data.”

Bocek adds: “Many of the cyber attacks targeting elections come from machines that can automatically spread information and direct attacks on the systems that count votes. It is true that organisations may have difficulty curbing deceptive or inaccurate information that comes from people. They can, however, keep their technology from spreading malicious disinformation.”

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