Technology has come to stay and its essence in all spheres of life is too obvious to be neglected. Yet, like fire, it has its positive and “grievous” side effects. The African continent is increasingly adapting to this development as her members are digitising their systems to meet its demands. Electoral Management practices have evolved all around the world due to this phenomenon and the role of cybersecurity is a critical concern as it can make and unmake electoral outcomes. The “discounted simple acts” of biometric verification, electronic transfer of votes via fax, and data storage by the Electoral Commission are causes for concern in the 21st century where technology and its related cyber activities are next-door neighbours in Electoral Management processes.
Consequently, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, the National Cybersecurity Advisor explains cybersecurity as “a technical term that denotes the various activities, processes, change in mindset and actions that are taken to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information or data.” Critical to this is the cybersecurity mindset which hinges on the user in the cybersecurity chain.
Accordingly, a “cybersecurity mindset is one’s ability to identify risks and be able to prevent a cyber breach by adopting cyber hygienic practices at the individual or organisational level. Hence, any intervention to address cybersecurity issues must take into consideration awareness creation, as the user is the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain.”
Cybersecurity is not a static action, neither is it an end state, it’s a dynamic goal.– Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako
According to Cybersecurity in Election report by International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), cybersecurity exposure in an election can be seen in these areas:
Technology Exposure – through hacking or system failure,
Human Exposure – through poorly trained or malevolent officials using data systems,
Political Exposure – through improper influence over the procurement process for election technology,
Legal Exposure – through poorly drafted or manipulated laws that restrict Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) independence or leave the process vulnerable to litigation,
Procedural Exposure – through poorly designed procedures that create vulnerabilities in how data is managed.
Unlike other countries including Namibia who have implemented a fully digitalised Electoral Management Process, Ghana’s Electoral Management Process is partially digitalised (registration, verification, and data storage). To secure a digitalised Electoral Management Process from cyber threats and attacks, top-level management commitment is required, from the Electoral Commission and relevant stakeholders.
The level of management commitment will help assess mindset and determine how serious cybersecurity should be taken as far as the mandate of the Electoral Commission is concerned, principally in this era of technology. It is also expedient that all Staff of the Commission undertake some level of training, as their ICT maturity level in the electoral cycle of management is critical to the success of any electoral outcome. Continue Here