What are the cyber security repercussions during an election? Are candidates websites are at risk?

Only today there are reports about cyber election tampering in the mid term elections in the United States and also in India. It seems to be an epidemic that is spreading.

Social media has become the command center of any type of campaign, certainly political campaigns, in order to communicate with the electorate on the most personalized and individual level. With the continuing rise of social media and digital media being a critical form of communication with the electorate, campaigns are no longer able to ignore this messaging platform and the requirement of digital campaign management. Digital communication management begins with the campaign website.

Today, a political party and candidate websites are being ‘protected’ in a way that leaves the door open for hackers to infiltrate and hack them quite easily. Hackers can access a campaign website in many ways, such as DDoS’ing the site to deny access, installing malware to infect all visitors, phishing attacks or hijacking the Domain Name System (DNS) to redirect visitors to the wrong site which could expose them to malware or something offensive, or even just the wrong information about a different candidate to create uncertainty and even chaos. Election tampering? I think so.

Campaign managers’ need to consider the day that their website might be compromised by malware, the website simply disappears, or the site loads super slow or just crashes, and need to be prepared for every eventuality. Hackers can do much more: the candidate website can display an alternative website, it could automatically send out e mails to the mailing list with any sort of content, or the emails sent out ‘by the campaign’ could be marked as SPAM by recipients. These problems and more would be serious and disruptive.

Campaign mangers will not do their job properly if they forced to deal with technical issues constantly, and so they must consider the risks and build it into their campaign management in order to seriously plan in advance for an honest and free democratic elections in the face of cyber risk. #cyberfreeelections #securedemocracy

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