Electronic Vulnerability

Amid positive systems news, SOTS recognizes online registration issues

As we mentioned earlier in the week, Connecticut State systems are an embarrassment and our Online Voter Registration system was down Saturday morning.  Apparently it has been down more than that. Yesterday the Secretary of the State took note in a press release

It has come to the agency’s attention that there were intermittent slowdowns and disruptions to the online voter registration system.

UPDATED

Connecticut Makes National Short List – Embarrassing

Yesterday the Connecticut Online Voter Registration System was down for the morning.  Reminiscent of last fall when the system was down for most of the last day local election officials had to print voter lists for polling places in the November election.

Last week Reuters covered a study of cybersecurity and Connecticut was cited as one of the weakest states. It also cited the U.S. Government as worse than most U.S. Corporations.

We sadly await the Election Day when the Connecticut voter registration system is down, especially with no contingency plan for Election Day Registration. Don’t say “Who Could Have Imagined”, we did.

Apple vs. the Government: Security and Privacy overlap

Apple is right to object to the government’s request to help open an iPhone.  Many claim it is an issue of balance between Security and Privacy. Perhaps. Yet, the Constitution talks of the the right of the people to be Secure in their effects.

To all those voices discussing this issue, we add:

  • Cracking “just one phone” and destroying the program thereafter is a myth…

While we applaud Apple’s efforts to make it impossible to crack new iPhones, such claims, in our view, are mythical.

Brennan Center: Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

Whenever we open a report with multiple recommendations we start from a skeptical point of view. We expect to agree with some proposals and disagree with others.  A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice is the exception.  We agree with every recommendation:
Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

It starts with the right criteria, it has a great agenda, strong supporting arguments, and ends with an appropriate call to action

Will encryption save us? No, “It’s Saturday Night!”

Last Saturday, some may have been channel surfing and mistakenly thought they were watching Saturday Night Live.  As one the 2% of voters spending last Saturday night intentionally watching the debate between the Democratic candidates and two ABC hosts, I was not the only one that noticed the flaws in one candidate’s claims for encryption that went unchallenged.

Fortunately, Jenna McLaughlin of The Intercept articulates the issues and the faulty assumptions of candidates and pundits: Democratic Debate Spawns Fantasy Talk on Encryption <read>

During Saturday’s debate, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said the U.S. should commission a “Manhattan-like project,” a reference to the secret World War II-era atomic bomb endeavor, to address the alleged threat encryption poses to law enforcement. She also admitted she doesn’t actually understand the technology.

What if we used computers for voting, not just driving?

From OpEd News, Interview with Barbara Simons: What the Heck Does the Recent Volkswagen Scandal Have to Do with Our Elections? <read full interview>

Since the Volkswagen hacking was disclosed we have been using that to highlight the potential of rigged elections as we have for earlier, more dramatic, vehicle hacking demonstrations.

Any large software program contains undetected bugs. That’s why software vendors such as Microsoft and Apple send out frequent software updates, many of them to fix security holes. Likewise, it also can be very difficult to detect cleverly hidden malware.Computers can greatly facilitate both car performance and ballot tabulation. But just as laboratory tests are not adequate for testing pollution controls in the presence of malware, so too we cannot depend solely on voting system “certification” to verify that our voting systems are accurate and secure

CT Lottery Hacked. Claimed to be easy “unsophisticated” hack

Once again, we wonder which is safer Gambling or Voting?

Courant story:  Suspended Lottery Game Had Too Many Winners <read>

Just how some lottery agents were able to manipulate their machines is not clear, but
investigators believe there was a vulnerability between the time a ticket was ordered at a terminal when it was printed…

[Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan] Harris said he does not think those who manipulated the system were sophisticated hackers, but rather people who were able to figure out how the lottery terminals work.

We are not reassured.

How Do We Know? Two cases tell the tale

Bradblog has an instructive post bringing home the limitations and possibilities of optical scan paper ballot elections: Caught on Tape: Election Officials Behaving Badly

VW demonstrates the Myths of Conspiracy Theories

Myth:  Conspiracies don’t exist

Truth: Conspiracies exist.  People, corporations, and governments are frequently discovered to have committed conspiracies, often charged, and even convicted of Conspiracy to Commit [some crime]. The recent Libor financial scandal comes to mind, the Tobacco companies covering up studies linking tobacco to cancer, the recent disclosure that Exxon hid studies predicting global warming for decades, the NSA cover ups exposed by Snowden, and the FBI conspiring with Whitey Bolger, to name a few.

Myth:  If Conspiracy X were true, too many people would know and it would have come out by now.

Truth: There are may conspiracies that remain unknown or not well-known for years or decades.  Some may never be known.  Many actually take only a few individuals who are highly motivated by fear of consequences, real intimidation, or perceived intimidation.  Many suspected conspiracies are not investigated, even some where participants come forward publicly or surface their concerns through channels.

“Who Could Have Imagined” System rigged to make tests look good.

Over the years, we an others have pointed out that voting systems cannot be tested to assure performance before an election.  Not the system itself before it is setup/programmed for a particular election.  Not a setup and programmed system either.  Not even if a system is completely secured and is somehow proven to run approved/certified software.

Here is some proof, not from a voting system – from a crime by an automaker.  In this case it only puts the environment and lives in danger, rather than Democracy.

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