Russia should brace for hack attack on presidential elections – National Security Council

Key Russian election infrastructure could be targeted by a cyberattack during the March presidential vote, said the head of the National Security Council in a report on cybersecurity.

The warning came from Nikolay Patrushev, who outlined on Tuesday the damage caused by hacking attacks in Russia last year and the government’s response to the threat. He said over 500,000 computers in Russia were disabled in 2017, many of them targeted during three major waves of ransomware infection. Computer networks belonging to the Russian Interior Ministry and companies Rosneft and Evraz were among those affected by the attacks, he said.

He added that Russian law enforcement had established some flaws in the cybersecurity of certain critical elements of infrastructure, particularly in the south of Russia, identifying “a high accessibility to IT resources to espionage penetration.”

The Russian government may consider a centralized approach to protecting potential targets, banning governing bodies from outsourcing their cybersecurity to providers not vetted by the Kremlin.

One of the major potential targets for cyber interference this year will be the national ballot-tallying system, Patrushev said. “We expect cyberoperations, the introduction of malware into critical parts of the [electronic system used by Russia for elections],” he said.

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