A familiar script is playing out in cyber space as Swedes prepare to vote in 10 days. Facing what could be the most tumultuous election in a century, the nation’s institutions and political groups have come under increasing cyberattacks that are threatening to disrupt the outcome. There has been a proliferation of new “bots” on Twitter that are primarily stumping for the nationalist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats and attacking the ruling Social Democrats. The pattern of attack is by now familiar. Cyber warfare erupted almost a decade ago in the Baltic states and the U.S. election was famously upended by the hacking of the Democratic Party, which has since led to indictments of Russian intelligence operatives. There were also attempts to influence the French election, with Emmanuel Macron’s campaign falling victim to hacking.
The Swedish Security Service is now stepping up efforts to defend the electoral process, it told the country’s national radio broadcaster on Wednesday. The agency stressed that so far disruptions have been incremental, not “major,” and said not all incursions are related to a foreign power or to the election.
“We’re handling a mass of activities and incidents and will, in our intelligence work with others, attempt to puzzle together who is behind each activity,” Linda Escar, a deputy unit head at the security police, told Swedish Radio.