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European elections at risk to aggressive cyber attack threats: EU security commissioner

Michal Fludra | NurPhoto via Getty Images

General elections throughout the European Union (EU) could be at risk to cyber attack threats from foreign powers, according to the EU security commissioner.

Europe is poised to host several key elections throughout 2017 with respective political organizations anxious to boost their defenses to any potential cyber attacks . The citizens of Netherlands go to the polls on March 15 with general elections in France, Germany and Italy to follow throughout the calendar year.

"It's clear that many institutions across Europe and more widely, and that includes the European Commission, are subject to a continuously increasing number of cyber attacks from different sources," Julian King, EU security commissioner, told the Financial Times on Sunday.

"These threats are persistent; they are aggressive, and more and more dangerous and potentially destructive," he added.

France would be just as vulnerable to cyber attacks from foreign powers as the U.S. had been in the 2016 presidential election, according to Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's defense minister.

France "should not be naive" in thinking that it could be immune to such attacks throughout its election process, Le Drian told French publication Le Journal on Sunday.

Multiple threats to security

Russia's President Vladimir Putin was accused of direct involvement in ordering a cyber campaign to boost Republican Donald Trump's chances of winning the 2016 presidential election, according to a report published by the NSA, CIA and FBI on Friday.

For the first time in history, U.S. intelligence agencies publicly released a report which adjudged a foreign power to have interfered with the election process in order to aid the chances of an incoming president.

Russia has previously denied any involvement in the U.S. presidential election.

President-elect Donald Trump had repeatedly denied hacking attacks from Russia had influenced the outcome of the 2016 U.S. general election. However, Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff conceded on Sunday that "entities in Russia" were involved in the Democratic Party intrusions.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lovren warned that the Baltic country faces multiple security threats moving forwards, most significantly from Russia.

Lovren cautioned that there were "primary" threats facing the country with a rising military presence in the Baltic Sea region especially given "Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea", he wrote in an article for Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Sweden began a three day meeting on national security and defense on Monday.