European Union Member States and EU institutions carried out a cybersecurity exercise to test the effectiveness of their response practices and crisis plans in April ahead of the 2019 parliamentary elections. In addition to testing existing measures, the exercise also aimed to identify ways to prevent, detect and mitigate cybersecurity incidents that could affect the elections.
The table-top exercise, code named EU ELEx19, included the participation of more than 80 representatives from EU Member States. It allowed Member States to enhance cooperation between relevant authorities at a national level, verify their capacity to adequately assess cybersecurity risks related to European elections, test existing crisis management plans, improve cross-border cooperation and strengthen links with relevant cooperation groups at an EU level, among others.
EU ELEx19 was the EU´s first cybersecurity exercise. The European Commission has stated that it is focused on securing its democratic processes from manipulation or malicious cyber activities by private interests or third countries.
“Cyber attacks are a recent but very real threat to the stability of the European Union and its Member States,” Rainer Wieland, Vice President of the European Parliament, said in a statement. “A cyber attack on elections could dramatically undermine the legitimacy of our institutions.”
The exercise is part of a 2018 European Commission initiative to address potential threats to EU elections. The initiative resulted in the creation of a European Cooperation Network on elections, which recommends necessary actions to address potential threats. One of the network´s recommendations included a European table-top exercise to test the EU´s cybersecurity preparedness.
The European parliamentary elections will run from May 23-26.