This report from the Communications Security Establishment (Canada) is a worthwhile read. It describes the threat from nation states and hacktivists as low. But it notes that there is an increased likelihood that they will target particular parties and politicians.
It reports that there was foreign activity during the 2015 federal election. It also notes that there has been an increase in this activity around the world. In 2017 13% of elections were subject to this type of interference.
The attacks are likely to follow three vectors:
1. against the system – obstructing the conduct of the election. More electoral officers are using networked computers to administer lists and validate the right to vote. A system attack that prevented effective administration of the voter’s list would undermine the election.
2. against the actors – hacking the e-mails or networks of parties and candidates. Each of the parties relies upon networked fundraising, get out the vote efforts, and, party mobilization. Hacking of e-mails, either releasing information or spoofing candidates, is another likely technique. From a practical perspective parties and candidates generally have low security barriers.
3. influencing the outcome – using social media and other means to undermine trust in the vote and shape political views. We should not kid ourselves that only the United States (2016 election) is vulnerable to these efforts.