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Operation Blackout election simulation

Ahead of the 2019 general election, a cyber defence company, and former members of the British Government and the Metropolitan Police, came together on December 11 at Operation Blackout in London. The inaugural event was a simulation of a hack, in a fictitious UK city, Adversaria.

During the Operation Blackout simulation, Red and Blue teams faced off. The Red team, led by Yossi Rachman, Cybereason’s head of security research, and other hackers, was determined to disrupt voting on election day in the made-up British city. The Blue team, tasked with defending, led by Alessandro Telami, a senior director at Cybereason, also included former members of GCHQ, the Foreign Office and the Met Police.

The goal of the table-top exercise was to examine the organisational responsiveness of government to an anarchic group’s attempts to undermine institutions and systems of governance. To date, the cyber firm says, most other election hacking discussions and exercises focus on the mechanics and minutiae of hacking election equipment or contaminating and violating the integrity of voter rolls.

Israel Barak, Cybereason’s Chief Information Security Officer, was Operation Blackout London White Team Leader. He said afterwards: “Both teams performed well, and they deployed a number of tactics and techniques throughout Operation Blackout London. However, in the end, the Red Team wasn’t able to achieve its goals, and the Blue Team scored a clear victory because they were able to maintain its goals of limiting disruptions and maintaining normalcy and open and free elections. Overall, Blue communicated very effectively with public officials and publicly trusted channels to stop misinformation campaigns and greatly minimise disruptions.”

And Alessandro Telami said: “We understood from the start what the aim was from the Red Team trying to disrupt the natural flow of the elections and used all available means to carry this out. However, with many excellent former government and law enforcement experts on my team, we were able to counter Red’s moves and maintain public trust.”

About Cybereason

The firm, based in Boston, has offices in London, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Asia-Pacific and continental Europe. Visit


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