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UK Lawmakers Say Foreign Hackers Could Be Behind Brexit Referendum Website Crash

UK Lawmakers Say Foreign Hackers Could Be Behind Brexit Referendum Website Crash
A committee of British lawmakers said on Wednesday that foreign hackers could have been behind the crash of a website which had allowed Britons to register to vote in last year's European Union referendum. The website had crashed just before the deadline.
Blaming the crash of the website on a late rush by mainly young citizens, the UK government had extended the cut-off point after the website crashed as more than a million potential voters applied to register online in the run up to the deadline two weeks before last June's vote.
It did not rule out the possibility that the crash was caused by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber attack, said parliament's Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) in a report.
"PACAC is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference," said the report, adding the committee did not believe any interference had impacted the outcome.
The government needed to ensure future elections and referendums were monitored with plans in pace to respond to and contain any cyber attacks, the committee said even as the report reminded  one of the accusations against Russia that it had been trying to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
"The US and UK understanding of 'cyber' is predominantly technical and computer-network based. For example, Russia and China use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals," the report said.
"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."
Using plebiscites as a "bluff call" to close down "unwelcome debate" was questionable, opined the committee and it was critical of former Prime Minister David Cameron's motives for calling the referendum in the first place and also criticized the government's failure to prepare for a vote for Brexit.
While many in his party backed Brexit, Cameron had campaigned to stay in the EU and had promised to quit office if Britain voted for Brexit which UK did and Cameron quit office subsequently.
"There was no proper planning for a Leave vote so the EU referendum opened up much new controversy and left the prime minister's credibility destroyed," the report said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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