Israel: Elections exposed to cyber manipulations | Al-Monitor

In June 2017, the Knesset Science and Technology Committee devoted a hearing to the cyber threat against Israel’s elections. Experts assured lawmakers that ballots are not under threat because the Central Elections Committee has an independent, closed-circuit system that cannot be hacked. “We decided not to go over to computerized voting, mostly because of what happened in the US presidential election,” an Israeli source close to the elections committee told Al-Monitor. “We would rather count the votes [by hand] at a slower pace, and ascertain that there is no possible infiltration of a computerized system by external elements.”

Nonetheless, the Jan. 7 warning by Shin Bet security agency chief Nadav Argaman continues to resonate. He said he was certain a foreign state would “intervene in the upcoming elections, and I know what I’m talking about.” The head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, recently echoed Argaman’s concerns about the April 9 elections. Melcer has been troubled by this issue since assuming his position almost two years, meeting extensively with cyber and social media experts in a bid to prevent foreign cyber influence on the elections.

In a Jan. 29 keynote address to the Cybertech Conference 2019 in Tel Aviv, former Labor Knesset member and respected tech tycoon Erel Margalit issued a pointed warning. “A prime minister under criminal investigation cannot be given sole responsibility to oversee the integrity of the general election,” Margalit said. He was referring to last year’s decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to transfer responsibility for information and data security from the Shin Bet to the National Cyber Directorate, which is under his control, despite strong opposition by the Shin Bet and other Israeli security agencies. The Cyber Directorate has sweeping powers but is not currently subject to regulation. “The fact that a Netanyahu appointee heads this powerful body in an era of external cyber influence and meddling should trouble every Israeli,” Margalit told Al-Monitor.

Full Article: Israeli elections exposed to cyber manipulations.

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