Canada’s electronic spy agency has warned the country’s political parties, candidates and news media that it is “highly probable” the increasing cyber threat activity against democratic processes around the world will be seen here. In a report issued Friday the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which looks after protecting federal networks, said specifically it expects “that multiple hacktivist groups” will very likely deploy cyber capabilities in an attempt to influence the democratic process — including disrupting political parties, candidates and the media — during the 2019 Canadian federal election. “We anticipate that much of this activity will be low-sophistication, though we expect that some influence activities will be well-planned and target more than one aspect of the democratic process.” For example, it notes that in 2015 the hactivist group Anonymous leaked reports about the redevelopment of Canada’s key diplomatic centres in Britain.
The warning applies not just to federal political parties and candidates, but to local candidates as well.
Affected groups are urged to consider CSE’s Top 10 IT security actions, advice on cyber hygiene and advice on mobile security.
Because federal elections are still largely paper-based and Elections Canada has a number of legal, procedural, and information technology measures in place which mitigate cyber threats, CSE doesn’t think it likely a federal vote will be tampered with. Instead it says the greater risk is to political parties — by DDoS attacks, defacing a Website, blackmail, tampering with a party voter database or releasing embarrassing material — and the media — by trying to inject false news.