Electronic Vulnerability

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.

Larry Wilkerson on Computerized Elections

Are Larry Wilkerson’s concerns justified? Without sufficient audits and recounts, we can never be certain. As he tells us, history tends toward cheating whenever it is possible.

Our position is that paper ballots and optical scanning followed by sufficient security, audits, and recounts is the optimum system available. Yet, in Connecticut we need stronger security, audits, and recounts to achieve justified integrity and confidence in our elections.

NonScience Nonsense, another claim of electronic voting security

In late June a respected source published a non-peer-reviewed article: The case for election technology Which despite its title is actually a marketing piece disguised as science, not for election technology but for electronic voting, including Internet voting. The case actually made is for skepticism and peer-review.

That skepticism is well addressed in posts by Jeremy Epstein and E. John Sebes: How not to measure security and A Hacked Case For Election Technology

Online Voter Registration: Vulnerable too!

An independent report by the state auditor general found Florida’s voter registration database flawed.

Susanna Randolph, one of the candidates running for Alan Grayson’s 9th district congressional seat, sent a letter today asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch a Department of Justice probe into the state’s voter system.

Unfortunately, we took a shot that was pretty close last month!

Last month, after a report of drone hacking, I speculated wildly, according to some:

My concern is that if cars can be hacked, why not police vehicles, especially, those armored military vehicles now in the hands of our local police?

Its even worse than we thought. A couple demonstrate graphically the hacking and controlling of a sniper rifle.

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