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Report: IT leaders fear imminent cyber threat to elections across the globe

Malicious nation-state activity from China, Russia, and North Korea is already taking place, according to experts.

user icon David Hollingworth
Wed, 17 Apr 2024
Report: IT leaders fear imminent cyber-threat to elections across the globe
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A new report on cyber warfare vectors has revealed that disruptions to a raft of democratic elections in 2024 are “imminent” and that some IT leaders are already reporting such attacks are underway.

Cyber security and threat intelligence firm Armis released its second annual global cyber warfare report, The Invisible Front Line: AI-powered Cyber Threats Illuminate the Dark Side, overnight, and it paints a grim picture of nation-state posturing and threats to social cohesion.

“In the biggest global election year in history, democracy is the primary target of nation-state threat actors,” said Nadir Izrael, chief technology officer and co-founder of Armis, in a statement.


“Make no mistake – we are in a cyber arms race against our adversaries, and society as we know it is at risk. It’s essential that we immediately shift from a reactive to a proactive, defensive stance before it’s too late.”

The report – which polled 2,600 IT decision-makers from the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, and Singapore – found that 39 per cent of IT leaders believe that electoral processes are likely to be a target of cyber warfare campaigns. Forty-two per cent believe the threat is imminent and have already observed malicious activity.

Seventy-six nations will face elections in 2024, and the report found that the impact of widespread cyber attacks on electoral processes could cripple economies and entire social systems. This could be further impacted by cyber attacks focused on media outlets – 42 per cent of leaders feel such incidents are very possible.

The report also found that 60 per cent of IT leaders indicated that the risk of cyber attacks and warfare had slowed or even stopped important digital transformation projects. The same is not true for those nation-states most likely to pull the cyber warfare trigger. According to Izrael, state-based actors from Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China are already taking advantage of advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to boost their attack capacity.

“Relying on legacy technologies and manual security processes is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight, given the threats we’re up against and the arsenal of nation-state actors,” Izrael said.

“It is critical that security leaders fight fire with fire, leveraging AI-powered solutions that empower them with actionable intelligence before a vulnerability is announced, before an attack is launched and before their organisation is impacted. Forewarned is forearmed.”

And while the perceived threat is a global one, the local risks to organisations and social cohesion in Australia are just as acute, according to Evan Thomas, channel director ANZ at Armis.

“We are facing the greatest risks to Australia and New Zealand’s critical infrastructure and society as we know it, as reports of regular targeted and opportunistic cyber attacks from nation-state actors continue to surge,” Thomas said.

“The developing AUKUS defence partnership, along with the complexities of multiple geopolitical challenges, have led to unprecedented levels of sophistication and scale in our threat landscape. The spike in attacks on critical infrastructure combined with the alarming findings from Armis’ threat intelligence emphasises a clear need for organisations to immediately prioritise cyber security.

“To do this, organisations across Australia and New Zealand need to urgently shift their cyber security strategies from reactive to proactive, as that’s the only way to effectively defend against these significant cyber threats. Cyber awareness and readiness must remain at the top of every organisation’s list of strategic priorities, as should the deployment of AI-powered technology that enables security teams to stop nation-state attacks before they impact their organisation.”

You can read the full The Invisible Front Line: AI-powered Cyber Threats Illuminate the Dark Side report here.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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