Speed Reads

Hackers gonna hack

Russia or China might have taken down a Brexit registration website in an attempt to swing the vote

A committee of British MPs has confirmed the "possibility that there was foreign interference" in the Brexit vote last year when hackers might have taken down a website designed to maximize voter participation. The committee's chairman said such an attack would be "entirely in character" with methods used in the past by Russia and China, although it did not directly assign blame to any one nation, The Independent writes.

The registration website crashed on June 7, 2016, just 100 minutes before the deadline to sign up. At the time, the government blamed the crash on demand — more than 500,000 people tried to register on the final day. Ultimately, the government extended the deadline to register but The Guardian notes that the crash "resulted in concerns that tens of thousands of people could have been disenfranchised."

Wednesday's report nevertheless claimed that the MPs "do not believe that any such interference had any material effect on the outcome of the EU referendum."

The report did note that "the U.S. and U.K. understanding of 'cyber' is predominantly technical and computer network-based. For example, Russia and China use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals." It added: "The implications of this different understanding of cyber-attack, as purely technical or as reaching beyond the digital to influence public opinion, for the interference in elections and referendums are clear."