Ukraine Battles To Combat Election Hackers

Ukraine's cepital Kiev has recently become a centre for  training and tests which include numerous IT and cyber experts and a hundred pretend hackers as a plan to stop Russia from hacking into the crucial March 31 Presidential Election. At the headquarters of Ukraine's security service, the SBU, more than a dozen local and Western security experts watch a simulated foreign cyber-attack on several big screens. 

During the exercise some of the Westerners became ‘hackers’ taking down the government’s election while some Ukrainian experts tried to stop them.

"Russia is carrying out cyber-attacks to inflict maximum damage," said Oleksandr Klymchuk, a senior counter-intelligence official at the SBU.

Russia has been accused of meddling in elections in the United States and the EU and the West believes that Moscow wants alter the Ukraine vote using fake news and deception electioneers and canvassers in the news and social media.

Moscow has denied these claims of hacking and fake propaganda.

Jakub Kalensky of the recently-created Ukrainian Election Task Force suggested that the Kremlin did not support a specific candidate but sought to discredit the upcoming election altogether.

"It's like a husband who can't get used to the fact that his wife has decided that she doesn't want to live with him anymore. OK so I'll just beat you," he told AFP. "That's Vladimir Putin".

The popularist uprising in Kiev ousted a Kremlin-backed regime in 2014 and Russia retaliated by annexing Crimea. 
This conflict has killed almost 13,000 people to date. The SBU intelligence group says that there have already been several Russian cyber-attacks against the central election commission even though the election commission using the Ukrainian Election Task Force has now installed very modern new software and systems for improved cyber-security protection and also the critical infrastructure such as banks, power grids and telephone networks.

Russia will do so "in order to suggest that the authorities are not in control and to undermine the integrity of the electoral count," the group said. Also a US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker has said that Russian involvement is "already happening" via social media and fake news. He said that Russia was trying to take down or at least weaken President Petro Poroshenko.

"They very much want to see him removed from power and I think they're hoping that they will be able to cut some kind of deal that favours Russia with a new government."

The 53-year-old's victory is far from assured, with actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, who is trying to take over and is currently leading opinion polls.

Facebook which has been accused of not doing enough to fight alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, has now said it will do much more to stop fake news and will not publish foreign election advertising before the Ukraine election vote. 

"We recently removed a network of Facebook and Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of a network that originated in Russia and operated in Ukraine," Facebook said in a statement to AFP.

News by CSI

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