Supporting democratic progress in Ukraine.

IFES Ukraine

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems

International Youth Day: Youth ensures cybersecurity in elections

Technology plays an increasingly important role in all aspects of democracy in an evolving, digital world. However, with the use of technology comes risks – cybersecurity is becoming an essential part of robust, democratic and safeguarded institutions. Young people are playing an active role in making sure that critical election and democratic information is safe from increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks.

“Even schoolchildren today are interested in cybersecurity. They want to be “white hackers,” like you see in popular movies and television series. But when you know how to break the system, you learn how to protect it as well and repel possible attacks,” says Yevheniia Volivnyk, 26, an engineer at the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA).

Together with her colleague, Yevhen Bryksin, 27, who is an information security specialist at CERT-UA, Yevheniia took an active role in ensuring the cybersecurity of parliamentary elections in Ukraine.

“Along with the Central Election Commission of Ukraine’s administrators, we monitor the situation during the election round-the-clock. In this period, even though the activity of intruders is increasing, we are able to conduct more network scans and respond promptly to any suspicious activity,” says Yevhen.

From July 1-6, 2019, with the support of IFES, Yevheniia and Yevhen participated in the Advanced Incident Reporting & Threat Hunting Training Program in Paris, France. Participation of the CERT-UA team at this training course will help strengthen the capacity of cybersecurity stakeholders to assist other Ukrainian institutions to prevent, recover from and investigate cybersecurity attacks.

“At this training, we learned important information about early warning cyber-attacks. Now we feel more confident in our abilities to repel an attack in the early stages if someone tries to access systems that constitute a part of the electoral cyber-infrastructure”, says Yevheniia.

Yevhen also emphasized that the training helped them learn more about international experience in combating cyberattacks: “For instance, during the training we met with representatives of the cybersecurity department of the French Parliament and the Greek branch of CERT. In cybersecurity, it is especially important to communicate and interact with colleagues from different countries, to find out how they solve similar problems.”

Learn more about IFES’ broader efforts to ensure the cybersecurity in elections in Ukraine:

IFES’ activities in Ukraine are made possible with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Affairs Canada and UK aid. Since 1994, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has played a key role in the emergence of democratic electoral processes and institutions in Ukraine. Through this period, IFES has developed a reputation as a reliable source for impartial analysis and high-quality technical assistance in the fields of electoral and political finance law reform, election administration, civil society capacity building, civic education, and public opinion research.