Election cybersecurity: a comprehensive look at the threats and solutions ahead of 2019

October 4, 2018

Editor: Anja Karadeglija Copy editing: Bryson Masse

Canada’s 43rd federal election will take place in 2019, in what is in many ways a completely changed landscape for democratic elections since the Liberal Party won a majority in October 2015. In fact, an annual report by the Commissioner of Canada Elections published in May this year noted that at the time of the 2015 election,“emerging technologies had posed relatively little concern to the enforcement of Canada’s election laws.”

It will be the first Canadian federal election to take place following major news stories about hacking, foreign interference and social media manipulation of the United States and other western countries’ democratic processes. Various government departments and agencies, as well as private sector players like social media platforms, are taking steps to prepare for a number of threats, from those posed by misuse of social media to spread fake news and misinformation, to hacking attempts targeting internal communications, web- sites and data storage systems of political parties and elections agencies.


Table of Contents / More Info

Introduction 1

The story so far 2

The key players 3

The potential dangers in the next federal election 4
Who poses a threat? 4
Cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities 4
The social media question 4
How social media platforms are preparing 5
What the government is doing 5
What else should be done 6

Election cybersecurity past coverage 8
Despite the paper ballot, election hacking vulnerabilities exist: experts 8
Social media threats challenge gov’t, platforms ahead of election 11
Parties boosting internal security in face of foreign interference fears 14
72% of anglophone Canadians on social media: MTM 16
North America to see brunt of 146 billion data breach cases: Juniper 16
Cybersecurity expertise gap ‘global risk’: report 17
Facebook facing £500,000 fine in privacy scandal 18
Twitter lobbying on online ads in wake of proposed elections bill 19
Facebook to fact-check Canadian news posts 20
Petition calls for empowered agency to compel deletion of false ads 20
Gov’t launches consultation on data, privacy 21
Ethics committee wants political parties to come under privacy legislation 22
Why Canada needs a cyber security foreign policy 23
CSE watchdog oversight, fall launch for cybersecurity centre 24
Accused of obfuscation by MPs, AIQ exec once again denies engaging in illegal activities 25
Lack of cybersecurity framework mind-boggling: Telus exec 27
There’s space for ‘positive’ political targeting, Wylie tells MPs 28
Time for an upgrade: fixing Canada’s aging cybersecurity policy 29
New cybersecurity centre will lead response to major cyber attacks, says Sajjan 30
‘Unprecedented’ international cooperation in data scandal investigation: Angus 32
Privacy commish flags ‘flaw’ in new elections bill 33
House Ethics Committee probe into Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal ‘just scratching the surface,’ say MPs 35
Don’t allow social media data use by political parties: professor 37
AggregateIQ denies whistleblower claims to ethics committee 38
MPs unsatisfied with Facebook testimony, mull further regulations 39
MPs critical about Facebook contact ahead of committee appearance 40
Facebook data leak could affect Canadian elections: Therrien 41
OPC joins B.C. privacy commish in investigation of West Coast data company 42
Facebook makes it easy to run illegal and ‘Astroturf’ ads, say Canadian digital political strategists 43
Facebook talks election security after tough week 45
Conservatives, NDP say they’ve never accessed Facebook profiles to microtarget voters, Liberals point to privacy policy 46
How the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit federal politics (as of March 23) 49
Treat Facebook as broadcaster in 2019 election: professor 50
Budget’s cybersec plans invoke questions about transparency: professor 51
C-59 CSE hacking powers could put Canadians at risk: OpenMedia 52
10M Canadians affected by cybercrime in 2017: Symantec report 53
31% of Canadians ‘extremely concerned’ about fake news: MTM 53
Fake news worries increasing ahead of 2019 election: PPF CEO 54
Facebook to test more transparent ads in Canada 55
Facebook outlines plans to tackle ‘election integrity’ in Canada 55
Facebook launching tool to help ID fake news 56
Facebook to penalize false news disseminators 56
The concerning e-volution of Canadian elections 56
Appoint cyber czar, endorse certification program: Chamber of Commerce 57
Fake news isn’t going away, so here’s how you handle it 58
Facebook, Google not ‘arbiters of truth,’ committee hears 59
Government should have cybersecurity czar, senators hear 60