#Infosec17: Paxman Talks Trust at Infosecurity Europe

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Noted journalist Jeremy Paxman opened the second day of Infosecurity Europe 2017 in a typically forthright keynote this morning, expressing doubts over allegations that Russia has been involved in widespread election ‘hacking’.

In a presentation which focused on the upcoming UK general election tomorrow, Paxman argued that trust rather than policy pledges will be the key issue for voters.

“A person that changes their mind when confronted with the facts is probably quite a sensible person,” he said of political u-turns.

“People care less about politicians being consistent than about them being trustworthy.”

In fact, most electoral seats never change parties, and there’s an increasing sense that politicians in the UK and elsewhere have less and less power to wield, as it continues to flow upwards to the likes of the UN, IMF, Nato and – especially – multi-national companies, he argued.

In questions following the keynote Paxman refused to be drawn on matters of technology and information security, also revealing that social media is “not for me”.

However, he expressed sympathy with the view taken by some officials that national security should trump privacy – arguing that the security services “by and large do a brilliant job.”

“When people who know about these things say suppliers of communication mechanisms need to be more responsible, I’m inclined to take their side,” he said of the contentious public debate on encryption.

The broadcaster also argued that while there’s “no reason not to believe that Russia desired a particular outcome” in the US presidential election, “the question of actual interference is completely different.”

“I don’t think the evidence has been produced”, he concluded.

Paxman’s comments come as a major new NSA leak seems to reveal the US intelligence agency directly blaming the Kremlin for much wider pre-election hacking activity than at first thought.

The report appears to blame the GRU for a co-ordinated phishing campaign against VR Systems, a maker of election software used in eight states, and a further campaign targeting state election officials in charge of voter registration.

VR Systems develops software not to tally the votes themselves but to verify voters at the polling booth.

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