INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS are worried that June’s snap election could be at risk of hacks by foreign crime groups.
GCHQ staff have been put on high alert to prevent a cyber-attack before June 8.
The Sunday Times revealed that teams at the National Cyber Security Centre were told to treat the threat of an attack on Britain’s democracy in the same way they would a terrorist crisis.
Staff working at GCHQ and the NCSC have been “stood up” in the past week and are ready to “surge” into action in the event of a hack of the vote.
They are providing Theresa May’s team with daily updates to ensure the election is not compromised.
Experts warned that enemies abroad could seek to “steal data” or try and disrupt voter registration.
Anyone not on the electoral register has to sign up to be able to vote in the election by 22 May.
The deadline has now passed to vote in Thursday’s council elections.
Ciaran Martin, chief executive of NCSC, said: “The general election is an event of national importance, so we are on heightened alert and are devoting significant and extra effort towards protecting it.”
A senior Whitehall source told the Sunday Times: “The tempo has been lifted in the last week to a level that it would be lifted to when combating a terrorist attack or protecting a major national event like the Olympics.”
Russian-backed hackers have been linked to the election of Donald Trump in the US.
And MPs feared that spies hacked into and crashed the registration site ahead of the EU referendum last year.
An astonishing report by MPs said there were “indications” that a cyber-attack caused a key Government website to collapse just two weeks before the poll.
Boris Johnson last month said the Russians were perfectly able to disrupt our elections.
He told ITV that they were up to “all sorts of dirty tricks” after all political parties were called for an emergency summit with GCHQ over hacking fears.
UK spooks have “plenty of evidence” that Russian spies are “capable” of undermining our democracy, the Foreign Secretary added.