Latvia: an ongoing case study on how to Russia-Proof an election
The tiny Baltic country of Latvia has become the most recent case study for countering Russian interference with an election. The country is located in an increasingly important geographical location on the Russian-EU border, just next door to Estonia where what is largely considered the first large-scale Russian cyber campaign occurred during a political controversy in 2007. In Latvia, around a quarter of the country is comprised of ethnic Russians, providing even easier cultural access to Russian hackers and influencers. There is much at stake for both Russia and the EU as the country goes to the polls on October 6. Forming what may be the “last line of defense” against Russian cyber threats is the cyber security group working that is working to integrate the lessons from Russian influence in US elections and elsewhere in Europe. The group is monitoring cyber attacks and phishing attempts on state employees, working with Facebook and Twitter to prevent the spread of fake news, and integrating with NATO threat feeds and intelligence. Furthermore, the ballot system is a hybrid electronic/analog system that can be counted by hand in the event of hacking concerns. While hacking attempts in the country have spiked as the election approaches, the cyber group has also emphasized that there has been a “constant and exponential improvement” in country’s ability to fight the many threats.