Our Democracy Under Threat: Electoral Commission Data Breach Puts Millions at Risk

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Electoral Commission Data Breach
Electoral Commission Data Breach

Our Data Sold, Our Democracy Undermined: The Implications of the Electoral Commission Hack

The revelation that the Electoral Commission suffered a “complex cyber-attack” that gave hackers access to the personal details of millions of UK voters is deeply troubling.

Though the Commission asserts the stolen data itself does not present a high risk, make no mistake – this attack threatens to both exploit voters financially and undermine trust in our democratic process.

The commission believes the attackers were “hostile actors” who gained access to copies of the electoral register between August 2021 and October 2022. That’s over a year of unauthorised access to sensitive voter information including names, addresses and political affiliations.

While the commission claims our actual voting rights have not been impacted, this breach has wider implications. It is likely the personal information accessed, including names, addresses, and voter registration details of tens of millions, will soon be found for sale on the dark web if it is not already.

Fundamentally, the government has failed in its duty to protect the people. This trove of stolen personal data will fetch a high price on the black market, arming criminals with the means to perpetrate widespread identity theft and fraud against innocent citizens.

The general public will be paying for this data breach for years to come, left financially vulnerable and with little recourse when their information is misused.

There will likely be no compensation or assistance for victims forced to rebuild their credit and credentials. The government’s negligence has effectively exposed its own citizens to significant personal and financial harm at the hands of criminals.

This is not just a routine data breach – it is an assault on the integrity of our democracy.

Far more alarming, however, are the implications for our elections and faith in democracy. That hostile actors probed our electoral systems searching for weaknesses is an assault on the integrity of British democracy itself. They may not have altered voter rolls, but they have shown it can be done. This knowledge undermines trust and gives ammunition to those seeking to sow doubt about the legitimacy of election results.

Such “slow and stealthy” attacks on electoral commissions are a known danger, yet the penetrations often go undetected for lengthy periods, as was the case here. The patience and skill required shows a determination to uncover vulnerabilities in our democratic infrastructure. Make no mistake, this was reconnaissance for a future act of electoral interference.

This breach also exposes glaring vulnerabilities in the commission’s cyber defences. If they can be infiltrated, then what’s to stop foreign agents or bad-faith domestic actors from manipulating voter rolls, election systems and other critical infrastructure? It’s a dangerous precedent.

This hack was a warning shot this government should have anticipated- we must prepare for further attacks, because they will most certainly come.

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