It’s Election Day April 9 and you’re told when you come to cast your ballot, “Sorry, you don’t appear on the voter rolls – you can’t vote.” Before that you’ve been deluged by text messages from a candidate, but they’ve been sent by his rivals in the hope you’ll protest the annoyance by voting against. The next day, the Central Elections Committee says it’s having trouble collecting the results. These things may not happen when Israelis go to the polls, but the odds are growing that at least some of them will. More than at any time in the past, Israel’s election system is exposed to a cybersecurity risk during the campaigning, including the process of vote counting. The Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies has crafted a study noting the likely threats based on the experience of other countries’ elections in recent years and suggests steps Israel can take to prevent them.
“Major events like these are of great interest to attackers because they can make a big mark in economic or political terms,” said Lotem Finkelshtein, who is responsible for threat intelligence at the company. “The more the system is computerized, the more vulnerable points there are.”
Check Point researchers see the threat coming from two sources. One is so-called hacktivists who seek to manipulate election results for ideological reasons. In addition, there are hackers who aim to undermine elections for fame, or because they see it as a challenge.
There is also the risk of other countries – like Iran, Russia and China – seeking to influence the outcome of elections or undermine confidence in the democratic process. Check Point regards them as the biggest threats because they have the most money and people.