Published: 20 April 2020
1. The Ministry of Home Affairs, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the Elections Department have published advisories to political parties, on the Elections Department website, about the threat of foreign interference in elections and cybersecurity risks.
Foreign Interference in Elections
2. Foreign interference in elections refers to attempts by foreign actors (countries, agencies, people) to assert influence over elections in a sovereign state. In the last few years, there have been many reports of foreign interference in the elections of other countries, e.g. US Presidential Elections (2016), French Presidential Elections (2017), German Federal Elections (2017), US Mid-Term Elections (2018), Italian General Elections (2018). Singapore is not immune, and we need to guard against such nefarious activity as we head towards our own General Election (GE), which must be held by April 2021. The advisory on threat of foreign interference in elections provides information on some of the methods used by foreign actors to interfere in elections, and the measures that political parties can take to mitigate the risk of becoming vectors or targets.
3. There have also been instances of malicious cyber activities such as disruptions, defacement or data theft observed in elections held in other countries, that shook their electorates’ confidence in their countries’ election processes. As Singapore is a highly digitally-connected nation, we need to also guard against opportunistic attempts to disrupt our election processes, to cast doubts on the integrity of our GE, and attack the credibility of our government. The advisory on cybersecurity risks and precautionary measures to political parties provides information on the potential cyber threats and good practices that political parties and candidates can take to manage and mitigate such risks.
Political Parties’ Role in Safeguarding the Integrity of our General Election
4. Political parties play an important role in safeguarding the integrity of our GE. They should enhance their understanding of the threat of foreign interference, and their cybersecurity posture. They should find out more about the precautionary measures they can take to protect their information technology infrastructure, online and social media accounts, as well as the storage and management of their data. They are also advised to stay vigilant by monitoring their platforms for suspicious activity and not re-share posts or tweets of suspicious provenance.
5. Political parties and candidates should make a Police report immediately, if they detect or suspect foreign interference in elections, or that their account(s) or system(s) have been compromised or misused. They should also keep the Elections Department informed.