Tory leadership vote delayed after GCHQ hacking alert | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Voting for the next prime minister has been delayed after GCHQ warned that cyber hackers could change people’s ballots, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Conservative Party has been forced to abandon plans to allow members to change their vote for the next leader later in the contest because of the concerns.

The sudden alteration means postal ballots have still yet to be issued to the around 160,000 Tory members who will pick Boris Johnson’s successor. The ballots had been due to be sent out from Monday, but members have now been warned they could arrive as late as Aug 11. 

The decision was taken on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre, part of the UK’s GCHQ listening post. The Telegraph understands fears were raised that nefarious actors could change the votes of scores of party members, causing chaos to the democratic process.

It is understood there was no specific threat from a hostile state, with advice being more general and about the voting process and its vulnerabilities.

China, Russia and Iran have previously been accused of attempting to influence polls, and were publicly accused of trying to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election by a US intelligence chief.

A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: “Defending UK democratic and electoral processes is a priority for the NCSC, and we work closely with all parliamentary political parties, local authorities and MPs to provide cyber security guidance and support.

“As you would expect from the UK’s national cyber security authority, we provided advice to the Conservative Party on security considerations for online leadership voting.”

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