Western democracies are aiming to take action against groups and states aiming to influence elections through voter manipulation and disinformation campaigns.
On Thursday, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt unveiled a “doctrine of deterrence”, which includes diplomatic and economic counter-measures, to prevent cyberattacks that threaten to turn elections into “tainted exercises”.
The move, part of a growing response by Western countries against those hoping to influence elections through disinformation and voter manipulation, is part of Britain strategy to prosecute those responsible for cyber crimes.
“We will always seek to discover which state or other actor was behind any malign cyber activity, overcoming any efforts to conceal their tracks,” said Hunt according to pre-released extracts of his speech.
In a strategic move, western countries have coordinated their denunciations of Russia in October for running what they described as a global hacking campaign.
Russia has denied the allegations.
Hunt is expected to say, so far there has been no evidence that foreign states have interfered with British votes but that unnamed hostile states are intent on using cyberspace to undermine Western democracies.
“Events have demonstrated how our adversaries regard free elections – and the very openness of a democratic system – as key vulnerabilities to be exploited … authoritarian regimes possess ways of undermining free societies that yesterday’s dictators would have envied,” Hunt is likely to say.
Incidentally, Britain’s response could include the public naming and shaming of any perpetrator together with allies, thus exposing how the action was carried out and prosecuting those responsible to show they are not above the law.
Hunt is expected to say, “After Brexit, the UK will be able to impose cyber-related sanctions on a national basis”.