Experts warn that it is easy for hackers to affect the parliamentary elections

HackingIllustration. Hacking. Photo: Thomas Winje Øijord / Scanpix

Norwegian politicians and parties are easy marks for hackers wishing to influence the outcome of the parliamentary elections

Norwegian politicians and parties are easy marks for hackers wishing to influence the outcome of the parliamentary elections this autumn, warn experts.

‘My clear impression is that Norwegian parties and politicians have not been tough enough against leaks of private material’, said security expert, Per Thorsheim.

He is one of the initiators at Tuesday’s NITO conference, ‘Can the vote in Norway be affected by hackers?’.

Naivety

Thorsheim does not fear that hackers would be able to influence the actual result of parliamentary elections, but it will be easy for hackers with bad intentions to influence the debate.

In addition, it is naive to believe that ‘little Norway’ is not an interesting target, he believes.

‘In brief, we have a border with Russia, we have an oil fund that holds a value of billions ​​in many countries, we export more weapons than most people are aware of, and we like to believe that we play a key role in various peace processes. Foreign states may be interested in influencing voters’ opinions, and working on a long-term time scale over many years,’ said Thorsheim to NTB news agency.

We should worry

NITO President, Trond Markussen, believes there is reason to shout out a loud warning to politicians.

‘I’m convinced that if anyone wants to hack individual people, or parties, to influence the political debate, it’s very likely they’ll be able to do it. Therefore, it is also important that we all read news, and messages on social media, with a healthy dose of scepticism,’ said Markussen.

He added that it can take a long time before the person under hack-attack detects it.

‘If a party has to spend time and effort in the election campaign fighting something that’s really just bullshit, then party battles lose momentum. The political parties must not only become more aware, they should also be more concerned with the hacking issue’, said Markussen.

The hacking of Clinton’s election campaign apparatus in the US election, according to security expert Thorsheim, is an obvious example of the fact that attempts have been made to influence elections.

‘I am inclined to say that state players were behind those hacking incidents’, he said.

At home, earlier this year the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), discovered that forces related to Russian authorities had attacked the email accounts of the PST, Arbeiderpartiet (the Labour Party), Utenriksdepartementet (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Forsvaret (the Armed Forces).

‘I am convinced that there is a lot of information on Norwegian party email accounts that would be damaging if it was leaked, although it is not necessarily illegal material. And it is also unthinkable that it could change the turnaround of votes by a few percentage points and affect the outcome of an election if the leakage occurs at a ‘suitable’ time’’, warned Thorsheim.

 

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today

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