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Czech government is beefing up cyber security to counter possible Russian intervention in upcoming elections.11 July 2017
Parliamentary elections will be held this fall, and presidential elections next year.
Dozens of the country’s most senior diplomats experienced the first lash of cyber attacks at the beginning of this year, allegedly from Russia, although the provenance of the attacks has not been officially confirmed, according to the Guardian.
At that time, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaoralek said that experts he spoke to described the attack as “sophisticated,” as well as comparable to the cyber attacks against the Democratic Party during the electoral campaign before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The Czech electoral system is harder to hack than the American one, as it does not have an online component. However, there are concerns related to vote counting, as information still needs to go through the digital realm before reaching the Czech Statistical Office for final processing, Respekt writes, according to CTK.
Apart from the need to fix bugs in the system, and prepare for attacks after the polls close, another major concern are cyber threats to candidates, particularly during next year’s poll when President Milos Zeman will be seeking re-election. Respekt speculated that Kremlin-sponsored proxies might attack the president’s rivals, as Zeman is seen as harboring pro-Russian sympathies. Among other things, he attended a World War II commemoration in Moscow in 2015 that was boycotted by EU leaders.
"The presidential election will be a bigger problem. In the general election, the Russians have nobody to support. Andrej Babis has not been pro-Russian so far and they cannot help the Communists much," Jakub Janda, from the Prague-based think tank European Values told Respekt. Babis’s ANO party leads opinion polls, and he is expected to become prime minister.
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