Helen Lieu, Teiss’s new marketing executive, comments on how cyber security, or the lack of it, is affecting our democracy.
Nation-state attacks on critical national infrastructure have palpably infiltrated our news agenda and daily lives. Earlier this year in May 2018, cyber criminals were able to exploit a vulnerability found in systems operated by the NHS, causing a staggering £92m loss due to ransomware. NotPetya, another malware outbreak, managed to damage businesses located from Denmark to the United States. Inevitably, this interference with national infrastructure and commerce imposes an array of dangers to our society – financially and morally. However, we are already seeing clear evidence of attacks on another area of national interest - our political process.
Democracy under threat
Cyber interference has played a detrimental role in the erosion of our democracy. An epidemic of disinformation and political corruption has presented itself through various high scale campaigns. “Fake news” on social media was widely reported during and after the 2016 US presidential election. In an attempt to besmirch Clinton, Russian intelligence forces were allegedly parties involved in the hacking of The Democratic National Committee. This is just one of the many examples of interference and malicious online activity targeted at political parties. As we approach the midterm elections in the U.S., there has been speculation of more evidence of cyber criminals attempting to disrupt political life in the West. Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former security guru, believes that the USA is no more ready to prevent election meddling in 2018 than it was in 2016.
Where are the defences?
Advanced preventative measures are vital if we want protect our political democracy. Cyber criminals harness intelligence from numerous sources to perpetrate damage. In the same way, politicians, cyber security experts, professionals and ordinary civilians all need to leverage the abundance of knowledge available to protect our property, democracy and lives.
The ability is there. But where is the political will to defend our democracy?