Israel is on guard against hacking ahead of the next general election, one of its most senior cyber security officials said, identifying Iran as posing the greatest overall risk to the country’s cyber security. The government is bracing against the risks of fake news, possible denial of service attacks on civic institutions, or efforts to hack the correspondence of politicians or government officials in order to leak embarrassing details. “We are on the way to identifying and assisting from a distance everywhere we find or identify as a vulnerability … and make it tougher for the bad guys to hack,” Yigal Unna, head of technology at the prime minister’s cyber directorate, told a Reuters Cyber Security Summit. Since the 2016 U.S. election, Western countries have been fretting about the possibility of Russian hacking to influence their internal politics.
Israel is less concerned about hacking attempts on polling stations as the country, with less than 6 million voters, still uses paper ballots.
“My agency took care that we stay with paper,” he said, noting that a proposal to digitize the voting process had been knocked down.
Rather, Israel is worried there will be attempts to disseminate fake news or smear campaigns. “You can hack into bank accounts and put in large amounts of money and at the right time expose it,” Unna said at the Summit, held at the Reuters office in Tel Aviv. “You don’t need much more than that to smear candidates, change opinions or shift elections.”