Experts Urge Coordinated Cyber Defense of Election System

YERUSHALAYIM -

Several weeks after a Shin Bet warning that a hostile state would seek to meddle in Israeli elections through cyberattacks and disinformation, election authorities have yet to fully organize a system of defense, according to The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

A group of experts in relevant fields, including computer science, technology, law and defense, have sent a letter to the Central Elections Committee urging that lines of responsibility for protecting the election process be clearly demarcated.

“Various elements of civil society — including academics and technology experts — have been working recently to try to identify fake profiles and bot networks likely to interfere with the proper management of the elections,” the letter said, in part.

It followed simulated cyberattack scenarios in which various government agencies participated, including police, Shin Bet, elections officials and the National Security Council, which revealed a lack of coordination in their responses.

However, no clear remedy was agreed to, and the officials are not scheduled to meet again before the voting on April 9.

The letter argued that there should be one person working under the election committee’s aegis, so that illegitimate material can be removed with the necessary speed.

Among the signatories were academics from the University of Haifa, the Haifa Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University, the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and the Israel Democracy Institute, as well as the deputy head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, the directors general of the Israeli Internet Association.

As of Wednesday, Elections Committee chairman Hanan Melcer had not issued a reply.