Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Cuckoo's Egg Hatched Again - 2

We have been doing a series about the weakness in election systems brought on by the means and methods used to develop software / hardware systems empowering those election systems.

We associate election systems to a notion of freedom through our secular belief system.

When you come right down to it, "freedom" is a feeling, a powerful essence that was captured in an old Creme song:
Pom pom pom pom pom pom, I Feel Free

Feel when I dance with you,
We move like the sea.
You, you're all I want to know.
I feel free, I feel free, I feel free.

I can walk down the street, there's no one there
Though the pavements are one huge crowd.
I can drive down the road; my eyes don't see,
Though my mind wants to cry out loud.

I feel free, I feel free, I feel free.

I can walk down the street, there's no one there
Though the pavements are one huge crowd.
I can drive down the road; my eyes don't see,
Though my mind wants to cry out loud,
Though my mind wants to cry out loud.

Dance floor is like the sea,
Ceiling is the sky.
You're the sun and as you shine on me,
I feel free, I feel free, I feel free.
(I Feel, Creme). Governments are very, very, very well aware of this, so they use that knowledge to their advantage, not primarily for wee the people (a.k.a. "the public").

Joseph Stalin was one of the government players who was well aware of the reality. He touched upon it with a saying attributed to him: "The voters decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything".

This nuanced revelation into the inner workings of his despotic mind means that as long as the voters feel everything is fine with their election system, you can make elections come out any way you want to so long as "you are counting" the votes. If the voters feel free, that is all that matters.

Over the past decade the U.S. government, after suffering a coup by neoCons of the right, has hammered the little people with feelings about security.

The "I feel fine" sentiment has been challenged incessantly with "I feel fear", the purpose being to direct tax dollars in the direction the neoCon government wanted to take the nation, wars and more wars.

They did all that initially through "winning elections" (The Supreme Court Five in Bush v Gore cast the deciding 5 votes).

Each and every time election officials feel all mavericky then want to go rogue by challenging anyone who doubts the security of their election system, that system gets its ass kicked pronto.

A recent episode under the skin, under the gaze, yes, under the feel good daze of the Washington D.C. crowd makes this abundantly clear:
The District of Columbia is conducting a pilot project to allow overseas and military voters to download and return absentee ballots over the Internet. Before opening the system to real voters, D.C. has been holding a test period in which they've invited the public to evaluate the system's security and usability.

This is exactly the kind of open, public testing that many of us in the e-voting security community — including me — have been encouraging vendors and municipalities to conduct. So I was glad to participate, even though the test was launched with only three days' notice. I assembled a team from the University of Michigan, including my PhD students, Eric Wustrow and Scott Wolchok, and Dawn Isabel, a member of the University of Michigan technical staff.

Within 36 hours of the system going live, our team had found and exploited a vulnerability that gave us almost total control of the server software, including the ability to change votes and reveal voters’ secret ballots. In this post, I’ll describe what we did, how we did it, and what it means for Internet voting.
(Hacked Egg Heads, emphasis added). The import of this is tremendous because easily hackable election systems like this are the most widely used systems across the land.

Just because election officials' being lax about voting machine integrity is an election crime, which is a State Crime Against Democracy (SCAD), that does not prevent SCAD after SCAD from happening, but neither does our addiction to feeling good no matter what is really happening.

Dr. David Jefferson of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, one who is scientifically aware of the vulnerability of electronic voting machines, praised the team who showed how easy it is for hackers to throw an election.

When the hacker team testified before the District of Columbia government officials at a public meeting last Friday, they also pointed out a shocker:
Halderman also reported that while he and his students had control of the system, they witnessed hackers from China and Iran prodding those routers and switches.
(Washington Post). The feeling I have about this is that we have foreign governments spending vast amounts on our elections, while at the same time they hack into our election computers.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

1 comment:

  1. Lets not forget that the Republican Party in California and in D.C. has been infiltrated by world famous hackers.

    We discussed this a while back: Link to Comments