The Netherlands, France and Germany will hold presidential elections in the coming months. A series of electoral processes that take place in the wake of the U.S. elections, during which, Russian cyber-attackers leaked thousands of Democratic National Committee emails which some claim may have affected the election result – a possibility ruled out by President Trump despite finally admitting the existence of said attacks.

Dutch authorities will count all

election ballots by hand to stop hackers.

Following the events on the other side of the pond, some European leaders are now worried that Russian cyber-espionage groups may try to influence their elections in order to help far-right candidates. European Security Commissioner Julian King has admitted that cyber-attacks could be used “to manipulate democratic processes.” More specifically, cyber-security experts fear the possibility that phishing attacks may be used to extract confidential information that tarnishes the reputation of certain candidates, as was the case with Hillary Clinton.

Growing cyber-security fears ahead of coming European elections 

The first elections will take place in the Netherlands, where voters will go to the polls on March 15. The Dutch government has resorted to extreme measures to combat cyber-attacks aimed at manipulating the general election. In fact, Dutch authorities have announced that they will count all ballots cast by hand, and will communicate the election results by phone to avoid any risk of hackers messing with the results. This announcement was made after a cyber-security expert stated that the software used at Dutch polling stations is vulnerable to hacking.

The two rounds of France’s 2017 presidential elections will take place on April 23 and May 7, and French authorities are warning political parties about the increased threat of cyber-attacks. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recently said that in 2016 about 24,000 external attacks against his ministry were blocked by security, and warned of a real risk of cyber-attacks on French civil infrastructure such as electricity, telecommunications and transport.

Germany will hold its federal election on September 24. According to Stefan Soesanto, cyber-security expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, the German federal system could lead to communication failures among security teams. Just a few months ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern that Russia could try to influence Germany’s general elections, and recently indicated that security will be a key issue in the election campaign.

Taking all of this into account, it seems clear that cyber-security will play a key role in order to stop cyber-attacks from having an impact on Europe’s upcoming elections.  However, it is not only political parties that must step up their defenses. The best way for your organization to protect itself against cyber-attaks, including phishing emails, is to have an advanced cyber-security solution in place, such as Panda’s Security Adaptive Defense 360. Prevention, detection, response and remediation becomes an affair of state.