Internet Voting: One of the Most Serious Threats to Democracy in the 21st Century

Our headline parapharases and logically extends the concerns expressed yesterday by President Obama as quoted in a Hartford Courant article:

Calling the protection of government and private information and communications networks “one of the most serious … security challenges of the 21st century,” President Barack Obama plans to appoint a new adviser to oversee an effort at improving “cybersecurity” throughout the United States.

Private companies with revenue to gain, state legislators, and Federal committees have been touting the benefits of internet, fax, email, and even voting by phone.  We along with other voting integrity advocates, security experts, CIA experts, and computer scientists have been warning of the risks to democracy.

Now, President Obama has formally recognized the risks and insecurity of the internet.  Given that recognition, the incidents we see reported  almost daily, and those viruses that occasionally hit our computers, on what basis can anyone support internet voting?

A second piece of  postitive news is that the military internet voting bill in Connecticut, if it passes, will likely be in a version that precludes votes being returned electronically.  In that form we support it along with other cost effective and secure methods which have been proposed in the U.S. Senate and House to help our soldiers vote.

Update 10/27/2009: Northrop Grumman report on the Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation <read>

This strategy, which relies on a simultaneous application of electronic warfare and computer network operations against an adversary’s command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) networks and other essential information systems, appears to be the foundation for Chinese offensive IW. Analysis of this strategy suggests that CNO tools will be widely employed in the earliest phases of a conflict, and possibly preemptively against an enemy’s information systems and C4ISR systems.

The PLA is training and equipping its force to use a variety of IW tools for intelligence gathering and to establish information dominance over its adversaries during a conflict. PLA campaign doctrine identifies the early establishment of information dominance over an enemy as one of the highest operational priorities in a conflict; INEW appears designed to support this objective.

Its not just China that could do this, and its not just warfare.  Similar attacks could change election results and disclose votes.  This is why internet, email, and fax voting should be a concern.

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