‘Like terrorist attack or hosting Olympics’: UK braces for election cyberattacks – report
Specialists working at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) were “stood up” over the past week and are ready to “surge” into action in case of a cyberattack on British democratic institutions, according to the Sunday Times. The center is part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s signal intelligence agency.
The high alert was requested by PM Theresa May’s office, which asked the spy agency to make snap elections in June a top priority.
“The tempo has been lifted in the last week to a level that it would be lifted to when combating a terrorist attack or protecting a major national event like the Olympics,” the Times cited a senior Whitehall source as saying.
The newspaper says the NCSC is preparing for an attack by a foreign actor or organized crime aimed at stealing voters’ personal information, downing election-related websites, or otherwise disrupting the process.
The call to action has been spurred by accusations against Russia, which has been blamed for leaking hacked emails from Democratic Party officials, allegedly to help Republican Donald Trump win the US presidential election. While no concrete evidence has ever been presented to back those claims, the theory remains popular among Hillary Clinton supporters trying to explain her surprise defeat.
Last month, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson admitted that London has no evidence that Russia is trying to interfere in the UK’s electoral processes, but warned it was “capable of doing that.” Likewise, an intelligence source was cited by the Times as saying that, while no “specific threat” has been identified, “the serious threats are always there – nation states and serious criminals, those people out to cause mischief.”