Media explain delay of vote for UK premier — Analysis

The UK’s conservative party has been forced to delay voting for the country’s next prime minister after the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) issued a cyberattack warning, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday.

This outlet reports that postal ballots which had been supposed to reach around 160,000 Tory members by Monday might now arrive as late at mid-August because of hacker security updates.

The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), while there have been no specific mentions of hostile states or groups behind this cyberattack, warned that voters’ ballots, which are protected by a unique QR-code, could be altered to change votes for scores of members.

Tories can now vote by either post or online in the UK’s most recent leadership contest. Conservative party members had the opportunity to cast their votes online for the first-ever time.

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The NCSC pointed out that this feature may allow cyber hackers to alter large numbers of votes close to the end of contest. They could do so by getting the QR codes on postal ballots. Specifically, the agency suggests that someone’s code could be leaked online if they posted a picture of their ballot with the code visible in the picture.

Because of this vulnerability, the Tories have been allowed to amend their internal party vote by repealing the law. Once they make their choice, however the code that was on the ballots has been deactivated.

According to a new YouGov survey, Tory membership polls currently have Rishi Sunak trailing Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has an estimated 60% of the vote compared to the former chancellor’s 26%. Expect the announcement of results on September 5th.

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