Thursday, July 07, 2016
Financial Times - A vote for online elections - comment
Considering that the Financial Times itself reports "The tools for cyber attacks are so accessible that individuals and private groups, as well as states, can carry out such offensives" it seems extraordinarily unwise to open up voting to these kinds of attacks. (FT quote from Germany points finger at Kremlin for cyber attack on the Bundestag http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/668a131e-1928-11e6-b197-a4af20d5575e.html )ENDCOMMENT
Sophisticated and in some cases state-sponsored attackers have broken in to White House computers and the Canadian National Research Council. We know this because some of the breaches have been detected and (to the extent possible) repaired. (BBC News - White House computer network 'hacked' http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29817644 ; BBC News - Canada National Research Council 'hacked by Chinese spies' http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28548925 )
Elections cannot be repaired after the fact, and they shouldn't have to be. Online voting increases risk enormously, without providing any benefits. Even if online voting security were extremely good, there would still be the issue of coercion. But time and again when voting technology is examined, the security is inept at best.
The Estonian example is illustrative, for while "officials say that their decade-long experiments have gone very well", an independent report on e-voting in Estonia identified serious concerns including "staggering gaps in procedural and operational security, and the architecture of the system leaves it open to cyberattacks from foreign powers, such as Russia" (Independent Report on E-Voting in Estonia, https://estoniaevoting.org/ )
It is key to choose appropriate technology, not just technology for technology's sake. The paper secret ballot is still the appropriate technology for voting, as no computer system has yet been created that can provide the same combination of security and privacy. I realise this may "seem peculiar" but it is the reality, as leading computer security experts have repeatedly stated, including most recently David Dill of Stanford University (Stanford Engineering, Why Online Voting is a Danger to Democracy http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/david-dill-why-online-voting-danger-democracy )
permalink to comment is http://on.ft.com/25RBV2F - it was posted June 11, 2016