Fears of Russian cyber attacks in Mexico fuel HACKING concerns as election looms

Posted on Jun 27 2018 - 7:43am by admin

Russia was acussed of interfering in Mexico’s election after a political party blamed the country for hacking one of their websites.

The National Action Party (PAN) had its website shut down during the final televised debate earlier this month.

Ricardo Araya’s campaign team said in a statement: “On this website, 185,000 visits were registered within 15 minutes, with the attacks coming mainly from Russia and China.”

The site was created to publish documents that were critical of leading candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and his alleged ties to a contractor.

Mr Anaya’s campaign team said it suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber attack and that the bulk of traffic came from Russia and China.

Cyber experts couldn’t pin point where the hack originated but said it is likely to have been carried out by hackers for hire working for someone who wanted to prevent people from accessing PAN’s website.

The site was shut down during a final televised debate before Mexican citizens go to the polls on July 1 when Mr Anaya held up a placard with the site’s address.

In December, the US National Security Adviser Gen. H. R. McMaster warned of the “initial signs” of Russia meddling in the Mexican election.

He said: “With Russia we are concerned, increasingly concerned, with these sophisticated campaigns of subversion and disinformation and propaganda, the use of cyber tools to do that.

“As you’ve seen this is a really sophisticated effort to polarise democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other and create crises of confidence and to undermine the strength within Europe.

“You see actually initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already.”

The former Mexican ambassador to the US Arturo Sarukhan said: “Cyber security continues to be a potential Achilles heel of Mexico’s electoral process.”

Mexico is no stranger to hacking as they have had five financial institutions hacked as recently as last month.

Hackers succeeded in infiltrating five financial institutions and steal at least £11.33million ($ 15million) from lenders. 

In January, a state-owned export promotion bank suffered an attempted cyber theft of £83million ($ 110million).

Even though Mexicans will cast their lot by paper ballot, electronic systems will be used to tally and transmit the results. 

The vice president of government solutions for cybersecurity services company Mandiant, Ron Bushar, says the slightest disruption can cause doubt and distrust.

He said: ”The outcome of an election almost doesn’t matter. It’s about calling into question the legitimacy (of the process) or creating a lot of tension between the political parties.”

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