Conservative Party delays voting for next PM over cyber security warnings
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The Conservative Party has delayed voting for the next Prime Minister in order to tighten up security over warnings that the process could be hacked.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of the GCHQ, warned the party that the process was at risk and that ballots could be changed without better security.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss are competing in the leadership contest to succeed Boris Johnson as the next prime minister.
Some 160,000 ballots were due to be sent out on Monday to Conservative Party members, but they are now not expected to arrive until as late as 11 August.
The NCSC said it believed there was no specific threat from a hostile state and its concerns focused around the vulnerability of the voting process.
A Conservative spokesman said: “We have consulted with the NCSC throughout this process and have decided to enhance security around the ballot process. Eligible members will start receiving ballot packs this week.”
The Telegraph reported that members were originally going to be able to change their vote further along in the process if they alter their decision about which candidate to back, but these plans have now been abandoned.
An NCSC 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.”
Truss currently leads in opinion polling among Conservative Party members, with the final announcement on who will become the next prime minister expected on 5 September.
A YouGov survey yesterday gave Truss a 60 per cent share of the votes among Conservative Party members, while Sunak languishes on just 26 per cent.
State actors from China, Russia and Iran have been accused in the past of trying to tamper with elections in other states.
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