Ukraine Cybersecurity Assessment Week 2018

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Roundtable on “Cyberthreats to the Electoral Process in Ukraine"
Publication Date: 
10 Jul 2018

News Type:

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) organized a series of events in Ukraine from June 4-8, 2018, as part of its Cybersecurity Assessment Week initiative. The initiative aimed to assess the cybersecurity of Ukraine’s electoral process and infrastructure. With Ukraine’s 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections approaching, the prospect of cyberattacks that could potentially undermine critical systems is a real threat and could have severe ramifications in Ukraine and beyond.

The delegation of international and domestic experts was comprised of Dr. Beata Martin-Rozumiłowicz, IFES regional director for Europe and Eurasia; Goran Petrov, IFES cybersecurity expert; Carsten Schuermann, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Information Security Research and Information Technology (IT); Yuliya Shypilova, IFES senior electoral advisor; and Victor Zhora, cybersecurity expert and CEO of InfoSafe IT. They met with key stakeholders to explore the development of a future holistic, global toolset ahead of the upcoming 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mykhailo Okhendovskyi, chairman of the CEC, and Yuliya Shypilova, IFES senior electoral advisor

IFES’ cybersecurity assessment culminated in an expert roundtable, Cyberthreats to the Electoral Process in Ukraine, which was held on June 7 in Kyiv. The event provided a platform for electoral and cybersecurity experts to discuss cybersecurity challenges faced by the Central Election Commission (CEC) ahead of the 2019 elections and the coordination of stakeholders’ efforts in countering cyberthreats. Key stakeholders included representatives of the CEC, European Union Delegation, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), British Embassy, Security Service of Ukraine, State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection, National Police of Ukraine’s Cyber Police Department, and Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, as well as IT companies and civil society organizations.

To encourage a meaningful discussion of cybersecurity challenges in Ukraine, the delegation issued a statement on the Cybersecurity Assessment Week’s outcomes (available in English and Ukrainian), which includes a list of recommendations to key stakeholders in the field of cybersecurity.

Based on the conclusions from Cybersecurity Assessment Week, IFES is preparing a comprehensive report which assesses the cybersecurity of Ukraine’s electoral process and infrastructure.

According to the report, the following steps should be taken:

  • The CEC IT personnel’s capacity and cybersecurity awareness should be increased; 
  • Explicit and comprehensive communication and cybersecurity strategies should be developed; 
  • Collaboration between the CEC and other electoral stakeholders should be intensified and better coordinated; 
  • Outdated hardware components should be replaced; 
  • Mandatory post-election audits should be considered; and 
  • The government should allocate sufficient financial resources to the CEC as soon as possible.

IFES has initiated the creation of an informal “Cybersecurity of Ukrainian Elections” network to exchange ideas and serve as a clearinghouse for practitioners. IFES stands ready to continue its electoral assistance in Ukraine, including key efforts to increase electoral cybersecurity.

IFES' activities in Ukraine are made possible with funding from USAID and UK aid.

Since 1994, IFES has played a significant role in promoting electoral, administrative and legal reform in Ukraine. Together with the CEC and nongovernmental partners, IFES contributes to electoral reform dialogue, raises local civil society organizations’ capacities, institutionalizes best practices in training election commission members, and supports Ukraine’s ability to enact critical political finance reforms. Analyses and commentary prepared by IFES and its civil society partners serve as a source of election-related information for national and international stakeholders.