Cyber defense officials meet parties, pollsters to counter hacker threat
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Israel elections 2019

Cyber defense officials meet parties, pollsters to counter hacker threat

Expecting attempts to manipulate vote, National Cyber Directorate meets pollsters and party representatives, launches emergency hotline

Yigal Unna, director general of the National Cyber Directorate, speaks at the 5th International Conference and Exhibition on Homeland Security and Cyber, November 13, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Yigal Unna, director general of the National Cyber Directorate, speaks at the 5th International Conference and Exhibition on Homeland Security and Cyber, November 13, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate is working closely with the country’s pollsters and political parties to help them stave off efforts to manipulate the results of the April 9 elections.

Officials in the directorate, which operates under the Prime Minister’s Office, met with representatives of polling companies a few weeks ago, and more recently with major political parties, in a bid to help them prevent hacking into their computer systems. Officials fear hackers could attempt to skew poll results or leak parties’ politically compromising information ahead of the vote, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

A second round of cyber-defense consultations is planned in the coming days for political parties.

The agency has also launched an emergency hotline — at phone number 119 — for organizations and political parties to seek help if they believe they have been compromised by hackers.

Cyber officials say a key concern includes the publicizing of leaked emails and documents close to election day geared to damage a particular political party, the report said.

View of the Central Elections Committee at the Knesset, March 6, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

That would be similar to the leaks of emails from the Emmanuel Macron campaign in France that sought to derail his campaign just a day before the vote.

It also recalls the Wikileaks hacking efforts targeting the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2016, which US intelligence officials have blamed on Russia.

The report comes a week after a similar report by the public broadcaster Kan noting the cyber directorate’s preparations for expected hacking attacks on or near election day.

The head of the Shin Bet security service warned recently that a foreign nation was planning to meddle with the vote. Russia has since said it had no intention of doing so.

The National Cyber Directorate began operations on April 1, 2016, charged by the government with unifying and bolstering state efforts to secure Israel’s civilian cyber infrastructure. The directorate “is responsible for all aspects of cyber defense in the civilian sphere, from formulating policy and building technological power to operational defense in cyberspace,” the agency says on its website.

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