Elections worldwide are top target for state-launched cyberattacks

Global elections will be the largest attack vector for nation-state actors that are looking to cause mass disruption in 2024, according to Armis, the asset intelligence cybersecurity company.

Data from Armis’ second annual global cyberwarfare report show that organisations and governments worldwide face critical threat levels from sophisticated nation-states, and severely underprepared to defend against impending cyberwarfare attacks.

“In the biggest global election year in history, democracy is the primary target of nation-state threat actors,” said Nadir Izrael, CTO and co-Founder, Armis. “

Make no mistake — we are in a cyber arms race against our adversaries and society as we know it is at risk,” said Izrael. “It’s essential that we immediately shift from a reactive to a proactive, defensive stance before it’s too late.”

The research and meta-data analysis was conducted globally by Censuswide in two parts. The first survey was a sample of over 1,603 IT decision-makers in France, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

Respondents work full-time at organizations with over 1,000 employees. The second survey was a sample of 1,003 IT and cybersecurity professionals based across the UK, US, Canada, France and Germany.

Results show that 39% of IT leaders worldwide believe cyberwarfare could affect the integrity of an electoral process and 42% believe cyberwarfare could target the media. 

As half of the global population across 76 nations prepare to head to the polls this year, this pre-existing doubt in the sanctity of the electoral process has laid the groundwork for calculated assaults on public trust. When successful, cyberwarfare attacks could destabilise economies and cripple entire commercial and societal systems.

Additionally, 60% of IT leaders say digital transformation projects have stalled or stopped entirely due to cyberwarfare risks. However, innovation has not stalled for bad actors who continue to push the boundaries. 

Researchers from Armis Labs have uncovered the tactics of nation-state actors affiliated with Russia, North Korea, Iran and China that are using AI for advanced cyber capabilities. 

Armis Labs is also seeing an increase in the combination of weaponised vulnerabilities being used by threat actors in a single attack.

“Relying on legacy technologies and manual security processes is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight, given the threats we’re up against and the arsenal of nation-state actors,” said Izrael. 

“It is critical that security leaders fight fire with fire, leveraging AI-powered solutions that empower them with actionable intelligence before a vulnerability is announced, before an attack is launched and before their organisation is impacted,” he added. “Forewarned is forearmed.”