EU prepares for major international cyber attacks ahead of elections | Science & Tech News

Law enforcement agencies across the EU are preparing to respond to a major international cyber attack ahead of the end of May’s elections.

Between 23-26 May of this year, depending on national customs, the remaining EU states will elect their members of the European Parliament.

It is set to be a significant election, as a Brexit-driven surge in Euroscepticism across the continent could determine the bloc’s future direction.

It follows Microsoft’s detection of a hacking campaign targeting democratic institutions, from a group believed to be sponsored by the Russian government.

Those attacks have targeted the employees of political campaigns as well as think-tanks and non-profit organisations working on topics connected to democracy and electoral integrity.

Such tactics and interference appear very similar to the influence campaign which the Russian state is accused of conducting ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

The head of Estonia’s foreign intelligence agency has also warned that the Kremlin will “very likely” attempt to intervene in the European parliamentary elections.

However the range of attacks being prepared for by the European Union are more drastic than information operations to sow “disorder and disbelief”, as the head of Estonia’s equivalent of MI6 warned.

“The possibility of a large-scale cyber-attack having serious repercussions in the physical world and crippling an entire sector or society, is no longer unthinkable,” said Europol.

A cyber attack in June 2017 caused billions in damages across Europe, which an enormous amount of harm caused to Ukraine, when malware referred to as NotPetya detonated on computers in the country.

Last February, allied governments collectively pointed the finger at the Russian state for sponsoring that attack.

The new protocol adopted by the European Commission has established how Europol’s European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3) would support national law enforcement bodies share information if such an attack took place again.

“It is of critical importance that we increase cyber preparedness in order to protect the EU and its citizens from large scale cyber-attacks,” said Wil van Gemert, Europol’s deputy executive director of operations.

“Law enforcement plays a vital role in the emergency response to reduce the number of victims affected and to preserve the necessary evidence to bring to justice the ones who are responsible for the attack,” added Mr van Gemert.

Cyber attacks aside and Brexit what may, Adam Boulton, Sky News’ editor-at-large, has warned that the UK could still be bitten in the European Parliament elections.

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