US election hack could prompt UK attacks, warns UK cyber chief

Suspected Russian hacks could be replicated for UK elections

The head of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned that Russia's alleged hacking of the US elections could inspire copycat attacks in the UK.

"There may be a perception now that this is a successful model for intervention in a society such as ours and those of our allies," said Ciaran Martin, CEO of the NCSC, "and clearly that's something we need to be prepared to deal with."

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Throughout the 2016 presidential race, rumours of Russian tampering have been widespread. The US government formally blamed state actors for the release of a cache of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails during the campaign, while the CIA says it can state with "a high level of confidence" that Russian hackers meddled in the election with the specific goal of ensuring Trump's victory.

However, Martin also cautioned that nation-state hackers are motivated by much more diverse things than simply political gain. "States undertake cyber-attacks for all sorts of different reasons," he said.

"They undertake it sometimes for commercial and economic advantage, they undertake it for commercial espionage. They undertake it for political espionage. And it may be the case that states are undertaking cyber-attacks in order to achieve outcomes in influencing and propaganda."

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Martin refused to comment on whether or not GCHQ agreed with the US intelligence community's assessment of the situation, but he "fully endorsed" claims by Germany's spy chief that hackers are already trying to influence Germany's election next year.

He also confirmed the UK counter-intelligence put measures in place specifically to thwart hackers during the UK elections last year.

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