Tory leadership vote gets hit by delay after warnings ballots ‘could be vulnerable to hackers’ 

The Tory leadership vote has been hit by a delay after spy chiefs warned that ballots ‘could be vulnerable to hackers’.

Originally, Conservative party members were going to be given a postal ballot which had a code with it, individual to each voter. 

Afterwards, they could then submit their choice by post or online for the first time- and were able to change their decision later in the contest. 

According to the Telegraph, the chance to change the ballot was scrapped due to National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advice, after the organisation raised concerns about online hackers changing votes online which could have thrown the process into disarray.

Advice from the NCSC was more general and focused on the vulnerabilities of the voting process- there is believed to have been no threat from a hostile state. 

The new plans mean that each voter will have their unique code deactivated after they have made their candidate choice.

Originally, Conservative party members were going to be given a postal ballot which had a code with it, individual to each voter. Afterwards, they could then submit their choice by post or online for the first time- and were able to change their decision later in the contest 

According to the Telegraph , the chance to change the ballot was scrapped due to National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advice, after the organisation raised concerns about online hackers which could have thrown the process into disarray

According to the Telegraph , the chance to change the ballot was scrapped due to National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advice, after the organisation raised concerns about online hackers which could have thrown the process into disarray

Under the first voting system, cyber hackers would possibly have been able to amend a large number of ballots online near the end of the contest.

Additionally, there was a chance that someone who completed a postal vote and put a picture of their ballot online could be vulnerable to it being changed if there was a visible code on it. 

Due to the change in the process, postal ballots have yet to be issued to the 160,000 Tory party members who will decide Boris Johnson’s replacement. 

These ballots were due to be sent out from Monday but members have been told that they could be as delayed as August 11 in arriving. 

Part of the message sent last night to voters reads: ‘Your ballot is now on the way – but it will arrive with you a little later than we originally said. Please do not worry. This is because we have taken some time to add some additional security to our ballot process, which has delayed us slightly.’

Members of the Tory party were informed of the voting delay last night, with no reasoning given for the security concerns.

If members of the Tory party have not received their voting slips by August 11, they have to inform the party.

As a result, there may be some voters who have to wait more than a week to make their choice. 

The letter also said: ‘It is an offence to vote more than once – any member found to have voted more than once will have their party membership withdrawn.’

Decisions to halt the opportunity for members to change their vote further down the line have followed weeks of talks.

These talks were between Tory party figures, national security cyber experts and the company which produced the voting papers for the leadership contest.  

Under the first voting system, cyber hackers would possibly have been able to amend a large number of ballots online near the end of the contest. Additionally, there was a chance that someone who completed a postal vote and put a picture of their ballot online could be vulnerable to it being changed if there was a visible code on it

Under the first voting system, cyber hackers would possibly have been able to amend a large number of ballots online near the end of the contest. Additionally, there was a chance that someone who completed a postal vote and put a picture of their ballot online could be vulnerable to it being changed if there was a visible code on it

GCHQ’s change in procedure for the leadership contest comes after China, Russia and Iran were previously accused of trying to influence polls.

A US intelligence chief also publicly accused the three countries of trying to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election.  

Chiefs in the Conservative Party headquarters are now likely to face more questions about the warnings given by the NCSC and whether they have confidence in the new process. 

It is unclear what the impact of the delay will have politically. In the leadership race, Rishi Sunak is behind Liz Truss.

A YouGov survey has revealed that Ms Truss has a backing of 60 per cent while Mr Sunak is on 26 per cent.  

Allies of Mr Sunak had thought that early voting would have a positive impact on Ms Truss’s leadership bid. 

A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: ‘Defending UK democratic and electoral processes is a priority for the NCSC, and we work closely with all parliamentary political parties, local authorities and MPs to provide cyber security guidance and support.

‘As you would expect from the UK’s national cyber security authority, we provided advice to the Conservative Party on security considerations for online leadership voting.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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