A three-pronged wave of cyber-attacks aimed at wrecking Ukraine’s presidential vote – including an attempt to fake computer vote totals – was narrowly defeated by government cyber experts, Ukrainian officials say. The still little-known hacks, which surfaced May 22-26, appear to be among the most dangerous cyber-attacks yet deployed to sabotage a national election – and a warning shot for future elections in the US and abroad, political scientists and cyber experts say. National elections in the Netherlands, Norway, and other nations have seen hackers probe Internet-tied election systems, but never with such destructive abandon, said experts monitoring the Ukraine vote. “This is the first time we’ve seen a cyber-hacktivist organization act in a malicious way on such a grand scale to try to wreck a national election,” says Joseph Kiniry, an Internet voting systems cyber-security expert. “To hack in and delete everything on those servers is just pillaging, wanton destruction.” That wanton destruction began four days ahead of the national vote, when CyberBerkut, a group of pro-Russia hackers, infiltrated Ukraine’s central election computers and deleted key files, rendering the vote-tallying system inoperable. The next day, the hackers declared they had “destroyed the computer network infrastructure” for the election, spilling e-mails and other documents onto the web as proof. A day later, government officials said the system had been repaired, restored from backups, and was ready to go. But it was just the beginning.
Articles about voting issues in Ukraine.
On May 25th, election day in Ukraine, I was with ten other election observers in the town of Romny, one of the oldest cities in Ukraine, founded in 902 A.D., and with a storied history under various rulers including Catherine the Great. Today the town and its surrounding environs have a population of about 50,000. The city is in Ukraine’s northeast, about 60 miles or so from the Russian border, north of the fighting further south in Donetsk and Luhansk. Yet the tension in the air was palpable as we readied the ballot boxes for the country’s first post-Maidan election. I was there to make sure the polls were run according to law, that ballot boxes were not tampered with, that the counts were honest and legitimate, and that the districts were operating according to law. Very often with hand counting, elections are manipulated. My team and I were sponsored by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe both who had vested interests in making sure a smooth transition occurred to a new and legitimate Ukrainian government.
Ukraine: Another OSCE election-monitoring team reported missing in eastern Ukraine | The Washington Post
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Friday that another one of its election-monitoring teams is missing in eastern Ukraine after a fierce escalation of violence between pro-Russian separatists and government forces over the past few days since the country’s presidential and mayoral elections. The OSCE said it lost contact with a five-member team of monitors in the Luhansk region Thursday evening. The organization said the five were in addition to four others being held by separatists in the Donetsk region since Monday. Both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions were declared “sovereign” republics by separatists after a disputed May 11 vote on self-rule. The OSCE said it lost contact with the Luhansk monitors, who were traveling in two vehicles, after they were stopped by armed men.
U.N. Security Council members have overwhelmingly praised Sunday’s election in Ukraine, and urged an end to violence and the restoration of calm and national dialogue. Nearly all 15 Council members welcomed President-elect Petro Poroshenko’s election victory and his pledge to reach out to all regions as well as Moscow to restore calm. But Russia’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, was more reserved, saying the election was not a “panacea.” U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Council that about 60 percent of eligible voters participated in the election. He said international monitors concluded the vote was credible, despite hostilities in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the country. Elections were not held at all in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.
European election monitors and EU officials have endorsed Ukraine’s new, pro-Western leader, but doubts remain on Russia’s next move. “According to our observers, in 98 percent of the polling stations we observed, the voting was assessed positively,” Tana de Zulueta, a former Italian MP who led the monitoring team, told press in Kiev on Monday (26 May). “We received no reports of any misuse of administrative resources,” she added. Asked by EUobserver if this means a clear thumbs up on Sunday’s election, she said her job is to “observe if voting meets national and international legal standards … overall, we were able to report that this election did meet those standards.” De Zulueta’s election watchdog, the Warsaw-based Odihr, sent 1,200 monitors from 49 countries in its largest ever mission and its first in a country at war. She said she was “shocked” by what pro-Russia gunmen did to stop people voting in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Security Service claims that it has removed a virus at the Central Election Commission’s server, designed to delete the results of the presidential vote. According to the interior minister the cyber-attack may force a ‘manual vote count.’ “The virus has been eliminated, software is replaced. So, we now have the confidence that the Central Election Commission’s server is safe,” Valentin Nalivaychenko, SBU head, is cited by UNN news agency. He is cited as saying that the virus was meant to destroy the results of presidential election on May 25. However the CEC programmers may not be able to fix the system in time for the elections, coup-installed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on his website. “On May 22 unknown intruders destroyed the ‘Elections’ information-analytical system of the Central Elections Commission, including those of the regional election commissions.”
Ukraine: Solidarity Eludes Ukraine Separatist Groups as Presidential Election Nears | New York Times
With a critical presidential election looming on Sunday, rifts are appearing among the patchwork of separatist groups that have seized control of public buildings in numerous cities in southeastern Ukraine. In an interview on Wednesday, a rebel politician in Slovyansk said he did not recognize the authority of the self-proclaimed government of the Donetsk region and suggested he could use force to seize control. Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-declared mayor of the city of Slovyansk, where Ukrainian troops and anti-Kiev militias have engaged in sporadic fighting for several weeks, said that there was no contact between him and the new republic’s government and suggested he could order the city’s paramilitary groups to “restore order” in Donetsk.
Andriy, a young entrepreneur from Slovyansk, won’t be voting in this weekend’s presidential election for fear masked gunmen who’ve taken over the small Ukrainian city will slay anyone who dares try. Separatists intent on abandoning Ukraine for Russia want to torpedo the ballot and have overrun half of the electoral offices in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, together known as Donbas. Tactics include abducting voting officials and issuing death threats, the Electoral Commission says. Thirteen servicemen died yesterday amid a push to repel the militants. “You can be killed for showing a position that’s different from them,” said Andriy, who asked that only his first name be used for fear of reprisals. “People have been killed here just because they brought some food to Ukrainian soldiers.”
From a cramped office in residential Donetsk, election officials were frantically working on Sunday to prepare for Ukraine’s May 25 presidential poll, despite what they described as intimidation and threats from pro-Russian separatists. By Monday morning, their resolve broken, they had shut down their office. ”We’re not working out of safety concerns,” said Volodymyr Klotsky, a member of election commission no. 43, adding that he and his colleagues had reluctantly taken the decision after “terrorists” had seized the offices of another voting commission nearby. Klotsky’s commission had been the last of five such election bodies opened up in the eastern Ukrainian city, an industrial hub of about 1 million, which is now the centre of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. The separatists’ revolt, fuelled by heady Russian propaganda, was focused at several points in the east following the overthrow of the Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich and the annexation by Russia of Crimea. Nonetheless, electoral authorities had set up Klotsky and others like him to do their best to prepare for an election that Kiev’s pro-Western rulers hope will legitimize government after the street revolt that forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia.
Kyiv’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has chaired Ukraine’s first round of talks as part of a Western-backed plan to avert the country’s disintegration. The EU says it hopes eastern Ukraine will be the next venue. OSCE-appointed mediator Wolfgang Ischinger of Germany said Wednesday’s talks were intended as an “inclusive” consultative process aimed at calming down the situation ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election due on May 25. Absent at Wednesday’s talks were pro-Russian gunmen who in recent weeks seized buildings and fought Kyiv government troops across eastern Ukraine, leading up to disputed independence referenda last Sunday.