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Scytl Is there no Canadian Company that can Provide Online Voting>

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Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Sorry, I just hear him blathering on about how futile it is for governments to even try to do anything about it. I bet he advocates for smaller government, too, just like all good Republicans in the state of Michigan. Someone give him an atta boy pat on the head, please.

Trinity, The Matrix wrote:
The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Oh, and the banks are hacked, all the time, at a cost of unkown billions of dollars a year, but they usually keep quiet about it so as to not alarm the paying customers.

I think you mean "cracked" 

Human Resource Development Canada's "Job Bank" service was down for two or three weeks this winter due to a security issue.  Governments are attacked and cracked all  the time.

What's interesting is that most of the world's major stock exchanges these days (New York, London, Tokyo etc.) are running on GNU/Linux servers.  When it comes to the security of their servers, they want to be able to see the code.


Michael Moriarity
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Joined: Jul 27 2001

Here is the latest example, Fidel, direct from the Wall Street Journal. It may result in large cash losses, but it will not reverse the result of any elections. And regarding Prof. Halderman, I saw no indication in the video as to his political leanings, I just saw a very smart, experienced computer scientist talking about an interesting subject.

RR, I completely agree with you that open source software is much less risky than proprietary when it comes to security. In my software development business, I use only free programming tools (gcc, python, wxWidgets, MySQL, sqlalchemy, CoffeeScript, jQuery, komodo editor, and so on).

 


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

I'd like to bet Wall Street would never suggest that they return powers of money creation back to the government as a result, though.

And the feds aren't demanding that only paper money and coins be created and circulated in the economy as a safeguard to bankwire hacking. We're only talking about the life blood of the economy and nothing so important as getting it together for just one day to elect a cosmetic government in Washington.

 Bankers seem to enjoy creating money electronically by tapping keys on their computer keyboards. And none of it ever ends up in my bank account by mistake. They are careful in that way. 

Their elections in the US are already rigged without having to go so far as e-vote hacking. Politicians are bought and paid-for with secret wire transfers and even paper cash stuffed in envelopes. Just ask Brian Mulroney. And paper is made from dead trees. 

Michael nobody's saying that hackers can't hack into e-vote servers. What we need are ways to prevent it from happening.


Michael Moriarity
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Joined: Jul 27 2001

Fidel wrote:

Michael nobody's saying that hackers can't hack into e-vote servers. What we need are ways to prevent it from happening.

Fidel, I don't know what your other points have to do with the subject at hand. Regarding this one, I agree that research work on computer security is important, and should be supported by all of us, including the government. However, the current state of the art is that internet voting would be much less secure than physical ballots, despite all the problems with this old system that you correctly point out. The biggest difference is that any scheme which has the potential to reverse the outcome of a national election using our current system would have to include thousands of co-conspirators, and would be very unlikely to remain secret. If the voting is by internet, one single person can make any changes at all. This could very well remain secret.

 


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Roger that.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Quote:
I completely agree with you that open source software is much less risky than proprietary when it comes to security. In my software development business, I use only free programming tools (gcc, python, wxWidgets, MySQL, sqlalchemy, CoffeeScript, jQuery, komodo editor, and so on).

Hate to nitpick, but I'm going to do it anyway Wink.    I much prefer using the term free (as in freedom) software instead of "open source".

My understanding is that the software used in DC was indeed free software and as a result, it's possible to find out what went wrong with it.  (I'll find the article somewhere)...but my understanding is that a software patch was installed at the last minute that wasn't properly tested and it introduced the vulnerabilities exploited by the folks in Michigan.

Professor Halderman is quite right that developing secure online voting systems is incredibly complicated.  One bad line of code and you're toast!

There are no reports of the security of the Scytl system being compromised, but where there are security vulnerabilities in proprietary software the natural tendency of proprietary software vendors is to circle the wagons and tell everyone that nothing is wrong.   In the free software world (or open source if you prefer) the natural tendency is to try to figure out what went wrong.

I think any online voting system at present should be considered experimental no matter who does it.   Perhaps in another ten or twenty years, it might be secure...or at least the balancing act between security vs. convenience will reach an acceptable state.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

We should aim for PR first. PR would make any e-vote system worthwhile pursuing.

Off to the ATM machine to make a few transactions, pay some bills etc. Should I update my bankbook while I'm at it, or is it too risky?


Michael Moriarity
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Joined: Jul 27 2001

radiorahim wrote:

Hate to nitpick, but I'm going to do it anyway Wink.    I much prefer using the term free (as in freedom) software instead of "open source".

My understanding is that the software used in DC was indeed free software and as a result, it's possible to find out what went wrong with it.  (I'll find the article somewhere)...but my understanding is that a software patch was installed at the last minute that wasn't properly tested and it introduced the vulnerabilities exploited by the folks in Michigan.

Professor Halderman is quite right that developing secure online voting systems is incredibly complicated.  One bad line of code and you're toast!

There are no reports of the security of the Scytl system being compromised, but where there are security vulnerabilities in proprietary software the natural tendency of proprietary software vendors is to circle the wagons and tell everyone that nothing is wrong.   In the free software world (or open source if you prefer) the natural tendency is to try to figure out what went wrong.

I think any online voting system at present should be considered experimental no matter who does it.   Perhaps in another ten or twenty years, it might be secure...or at least the balancing act between security vs. convenience will reach an acceptable state.

Yes, of course software can be open source without being free (as in beer or freedom). It can also be free as in beer, but not open source. I am an admirer of Richard Stallman. But in the electoral context, these distinctions are not important. If we can all see the source, that will suffice.

I didn't know that the source was available to Halderman's group when they planned this attack. Having the source makes this sort of vulnerability much easier to discover. From his description, it sounds like PHP code, with the distinction between single and double quotes. Many if not most people would think that making the source code of a voting system available to everyone would make it more vulnerable to attack. That would be correct if the only people who searched for flaws were out to beat the system. In reality, a huge community of academic and commercial computer security experts would find almost all of the flaws in a fairly short period of testing, making the result much more secure than a similar system which has not withstood similar scrutiny. Security by obscurity has been proven to be a failure again and again.

I have no knowledge of the Scytl system, and no reason to disbelieve their claims that the integrity of the vote was not compromised. However, I find this talk of the servers being repeatedly re-booted rather alarming. I am not a professional sysadmin, but I have been administering my office network of Linux and Windows systems for many years, and I read Slashdot. Rebooting is something you do with Windows PCs, not serious servers. My understanding is that the way of dealing with DDos attacks is to determine the attacking IP addresses, then adjust your router or firewall settings to block those addresses. A restart of the networking subsystem might or might not be necessary, but never a system reboot. So, these reports that the people in charge of the servers were responding to the attacks by repeatedly rebooting struck me as amateurish at best.

You are so right that the way to think of this is as a "balancing act", or in my lingo, a "trade-off". With our current voting system, we can have (relative) security at the expense of (relative) convenience. Or by switching to internet voting, we could have great convenience, at the expense of a total loss of security. If advances in cryptography and related fields bring the insecurity of internet voting down to something approaching the equivalent figure for paper ballots, then there will be something to talk about. Until then, it is simply a really bad idea.

 


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Windows is for running business apps and the like. It crashes and always comes with a long list of bugs and patches before the next version. Windows does a lot of different things with so-so performance and getting better. But Windows is not a real time operating system.

And,  e-voting has been used successfully in municipal elections across Canada. Imagine that.

E-vote Norway 2011 another success

And, yes, even the NDP's leadership vote was a success. Integrity of the voting system was never compromised.


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

To be fair the folks handling the Dipper vote might have done more than just continually reboot the server...I was just going by what's been reported in the press so far.

On the other hand given the proprietary nature of the software we may never know exactly what took place.

At least with the DC vote, we know pretty much what went wrong.

In non-contentious municipal elections where the stakes aren't particularly high, the security/convenience trade-offs of online voting might not be all that great but I wouldn't want online voting in a large city like Toronto for instance.

In the NDP leadership race the stakes were fairly high given that party members were possibbly voting for the next prime minister of a G8 country.

The Norwegian municipal e-votes that you mention Fidel involved very small electorates...much smaller than the number of voters involved in the NDP leadership race.   The largest elections only involved about 8,000 votes.

Would the CIA or some other such nasty organization care if the Socialist Left Party won the municipal election in a rural county in Norway?   I seriously doubt it.   On the other hand I think they would be interested in the results of Norway's national elections given that it involves things like F35 contracts.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

radiorahim wrote:
The Norwegian municipal e-votes that you mention Fidel involved very small electorates...much smaller than the number of voters involved in the NDP leadership race.   The largest elections only involved about 8,000 votes.

But the fact is there were e-vote servers running and available to any hacker to cross swords with. I'm almost certain that a larger electorate would translate to additional servers running the same e-vote interface processes for decrypting, parsing, and processing inbound voter data  or whatever their methods happen to be. More load same thing larger scale. Computers are wicked fast when enough of them are deployed to handle the job. 

My concern for Norway's elections would have been hackers exploiting vulnerabilities which were likely present. No system is perfect, and there need to be improvements for sure. And people are working on it. 

radiorahim wrote:
Would the CIA or some other such nasty organization care if the Socialist Left Party won the municipal election in a rural county in Norway?   I seriously doubt it.   On the other hand I think they would be interested in the results of Norway's national elections given that it involves things like F35 contracts.
 

They also have the world's second largest sovereign wealth fund from oil profits salted away for rainy days. Their constitution dictates that no government should spend from the fund at a greater than rate of 2% annually. I'd like to bet that opposition parties and their financial friends would like to change those rules. A national election that includes e-voting might well be a dangerous thing. High stakes for sure. The people writing the software to be used and those running the show on E day would have to be very good.

radiorahim wrote:
On the other hand given the proprietary nature of the software we may never know exactly what took place.

I agree. A tiny group of people monopolizing the very thing determining who gets the power is bound to be a bad idea.


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