When the voter registration website collapsed under technical difficulties 100 minutes before the deadline to register for the Brexit referendum, tens of thousands of people lost the opportunity to register and subsequently became disenfranchised. At least, that’s what many fear. The technical failure was initially blamed on an unexpected spike in website activity, with more than 500,000 people attempting to register on the 7th June last year.
Now, reports have surfaced that claim the blunder wasn’t an accident. In fact, it was allegedly due to interference by foreign governments, notably Russia and China. A report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC) said that both countries use cyber-attacks that are based on an understanding of how to exploit individuals. In actual words, their hackers could have known the easiest way to influence the referendum was to prevent people from registering.
It makes sense as a tactic, Brexit came as a shock even to Brexiteer’s (Breget should be re-named Brucked Everyone Over), even David Cameron (remember him?) didn’t think it would actually happen. With the majority of people assumed to be remain voters, and the final outcome percentage as close as 51.9 vs 48.1 you have to wonder, has something abit dodge has gone on here?
The method of the supposed cyber-attack was to use botnets (computers infected with malicious software) to overwhelm the site, which is known as a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS).
'The crash had indications of being a DDOS ‘attack’. We understand that this is very common and easy to do with botnets... The key indicants are timing and relative volume rate,' the committee’s report said.
The report also noted that the US and UK understanding of cyber is technical, as oppose to the mass psychological approach that Russia and China take.
'The implications of this different understanding of cyber-attack, as purely technical or as reaching beyond the digital to influence public opinion, for the interference in elections and referendums are clear.
'PACAC is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference,' the report concluded.
These fears come in the wake of US investigations into Russian hacking of the presidential election, and reports of similar alleged attacks in the French election last month.
Can we just assume Brexit was all a big accident and forget it ever happened now? You know, just brush it under the carpet as us Brit’s do so well and pretend we’ve never even heard such a ludicrous suggestion. Come on May, it’ll be yesterday’s news before you know it.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.