CRF Blog

The Hackers Russia-Proofing Germany’s Elections

by Bill Hayes

In The Hackers Russia-Proofing Germany’s Elections for Bloomberg Businessweek, Vernon Silver reports that a hacker-activist group, the Chaos Computing Club (CCC), is working to protect German elections from cyberattack.

From imperfect voting machines to the fake news that chokes social media, the U.S., the U.K., and France are only beginning to wrestle with the ways in which democracy can be hacked. In Germany, which is heading to the polls in September, CCC has been paying closer attention. Sometimes that means such stunts as reprogramming computer systems on a dare, but the loose confederation of about 5,500 hackers isn’t a bunch of bored teens in it for the lulz. Its 29 local chapters are stocked with professionals who run security for banks, head encryption startups, and advise policymakers. The group publishes an occasional magazine, produces a monthly talk radio show, and throws the occasional party, too.

All this has made CCC into something that sounds alien to American ears: a popular, powerful, tech-focused watchdog group, one whose counsel has been sought by both WikiLeaks and Deutsche Telekom AG. By exposing weaknesses in German banking, government, and other computer systems, CCC has helped make them more resistant to attack and contributed to a society that’s exceptionally careful about believing what it sees online. [more]