Spotlight: Israel on high alert of potential cyber attack on election

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-09 03:24:56|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

by Nick Kolyohin

JERUSALEM, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Israel is on high alert as experts stressed a possible cyber attack on election on Tuesday. However, the Israeli public is still arguing if the democratic process has been targeted by cyber means.

"The danger of faking the vote results is prominent during the day of election," said Tal Pavel, a cyber expert and lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, an Israeli leading private college.

Pavel, also a founder and CEO of CyBureau, told Xinhua that "I am worried about possible intervention at the results of the election in Israel."

In an interview with Xinhua, Pavel emphasized the possibility that a foreign power has already succeeded to hack the vital systems of Israel's Central Elections Committee.

"The ballots could be always recounted. The computer systems have written backups," said Lotem Finkelsteen, head of threat intelligence unit at Israeli software technologies giant company, Check Point.

Although Israel is a leading high-tech power, it is still using paper ballots to vote at the elections. The results of paper ballots will be digitalized into computer systems which could be hacked, Finkelsteen said.

Israel Democracy Institute and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have prepared a report which examines the foreign entities' cyber threats on Israel's elections.

Ron Shamir, a co-author of the report and a former head of the technology division at Israel Securities Agency (ISA), told Xinhua that "there is a scenario of compromised computers used by the parties to manage the logistics of election day."

This kind of hacking could disrupt the transportation system of political parties' supporters to the polling stations or is able to do any other damage, which would affect the voting results.

Shamir who is also CEO of Phonetica company and researcher at cybersecurity center of Hebrew University said that the public's confidence in the voting process is essential for the Israeli democracy.

International experience shows that attempts to intervene in elections involve three main types of attack, first is attacking the execution of the electoral process at any of its stages.

The second type is attacking social networks and news sites, as sources of major influence over voters' political positions, using cyber tools.

And the third, attacks on parties or candidates using various means to interfere with parties' preparation or stealing and publishing personal information of the politicians.

The most famous case of that alleged intervention occurred with Benny Gantz, former Israeli military chief of staff and current candidate to be the next Israeli prime minister.

ISA has warned Gantz of hostile power hacked his personal mobile phone and could use his personal information to blackmail him. This publication itself made public damage to Gantz's campaign.