Elections in the UK are more likely to bring to mind visions of kindly pensioners in church halls ticking names off lists than shadowy hacking groups attempting to subvert democracy. But hackers, with terrifying powers to spread fake news on a massive scale, are fast becoming a reality of British politics. Last year, ahead of the local elections, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a division of spy agency GCHQ, published a starkly worded report for local authorities which warned of “insider activity” that could attempt to “manipulate or compromise electoral information or processes for financial gain [or] ideological reasons.” The report urged local authorities to make regular backups of the electoral roll and to keep these backups in secure facilities to make it more difficult for hackers to access them. Ask spies and security experts about the digital threat to elections and you’ll encounter the curious lexicon of intelligence agencies. Hackers are known as “threat actors” who engage in either overt or covert influence campaigns. And when hackers manage to break into a computer network, they typically create an “implant” which allows them to return or to funnel data out without anyone noticing. A series of government departments have found themselves at the frontline of the battle to keep elections secure. In recent months, committee hearings in the Houses of Parliament and briefings by spy agencies have outlined how the government keeps elections safe.
United Kingdom: Leaked NHS dossier inquiry focuses on personal Gmail accounts | Dan Sabbagh/The Guardian
Britain’s security agencies are investigating whether hackers from a hostile state successfully targeted a personal Gmail account to access an explosive cache of correspondence that was seized on by Labour during the election campaign. The leak inquiry into how the 451-page dossier got into the public domain is focused on the Department for International Trade. Jeremy Corbyn said during the campaign that the documents proved the NHS was “on the table” in future US trade talks. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, warned ministerial special advisers at a meeting on Tuesday not to use personal Gmail accounts because “foreign powers” were targeting them. Special advisers are not supposed to use personal accounts for government business but, in practice, some communications are conducted via private accounts, where security may be weaker because they are outside official networks. It is not clear which country – if any – is behind the alleged hack, but independent analysts have already suggested that the cache was originally disseminated online by a Russian operation known as Secondary Infektion.Full Article: Leaked NHS dossier inquiry focuses on personal Gmail accounts | Politics | The Guardian.