Skip to main content

Paper ballots are critical election security infrastructure

Why voter-verified paper audit trail is so important. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter-verified_paper_audit_trail)

From the 1/6/16 intelligence assessment: "Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying."

So either (a) the Kremlin tried to compromise vote tallying systems but didn't succeed or (b) they were after something else having to do with "state or local electoral boards", and maybe succeeded.

Both of these possibilities are terrible and we should block this kind of election fraud.

The security of most electronic voting systems without paper trails can plausibly be compromised by state level actors. (This is the consensus view of the software engineering professionals.) The best practice to defend against this is a paper trail and automatic recounts.

See https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0ba#.b25sz36l6, especially the following about how an attacker might accomplish this:

"First, the attackers would probe election offices well in advance in order to find ways to break into their computers. Closer to the election, when it was clear from polling data which states would have close electoral margins, the attackers might spread malware into voting machines in some of these states, rigging the machines to shift a few percent of the vote to favor their desired candidate."

It's very hard to say from the intelligence report whether this was the first part of an attempt or not. But it's very concerning, which is why every state that cares about the integrity of its election results should implement paper trail and automatic recounts.

(The other possibility is perhaps just as disturbing -- that the Kremlin was not targeting vote tallying but something else having to do with electoral boards not directly tied to vote tallying. Blackmail material?)

Back to the intelligence report, the next paragraph:

"We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their
election processes."

[Originally published Jan 7, 2017 at https://plus.google.com/115608553892438743738/posts/NprmqKdEzY5.  Subsequently, I have seen many problems with the machine-generated "audit trails" sold by vendors and believe that we should minimize the use of machine printed ballots and maximize the use of hand marked ballots in order to have meaningful audits and defend against this kind of election fraud.]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The problem with creation date metadata in PDF documents

Last night Rachel Maddow talked about an apparently fake NSA document "leaked" to her organization.  There's a lot of info there, I suggest you listen to the whole thing:

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/maddow-to-news-orgs-heads-up-for-hoaxes-985491523709

There's a lot to unpack there but it looks like somebody tried to fool MSNBC into running with a fake accusation based on faked NSA documents, apparently based on cloning the document the Intercept published back on 6/5/2017, which to all appearances was itself a real NSA document in PDF form.

I think the main thrust of this story is chilling and really important to get straight -- some person or persons unknown is sending forged PDFs to news organization(s), apparently trying to get them to run stories based on forged documents.  And I completely agree with Maddow that she was right to send up a "signal flare" to all the news organizations to look out for forgeries.  Really, really, really import…

Personal Web Discovery (aka Webfinger)

There's a particular discovery problem for open and distributed protocols such as OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, Activity Streams, and OpenSocial.  It seems like a trivial problem, but it's one of the stumbling blocks that slows mass adoption.  We need to fix it.  So first, I'm going to name it:

The Personal Web Discovery Problem:  Given a person, how do I find out what services that person uses?
This does sound trivial, doesn't it?  And it is easy as long as you're service-centric; if you're building on top of social network X, there is no discovery problem, or at least only a trivial one that can be solved with proprietary APIs.  But what if you want to build on top of X,Y, and Z?  Well, you write code to make the user log in to each one so you can call those proprietary APIs... which means the user has to tell you their identity (and probably password) on each one... and the user has already clicked the Back button because this is complicated and annoying.

The hill outside Google HQ, about a 270 degree panorama.