E-voting critiques

Here are some of the alleged security weaknesses Johns Hopkins University researchers found in Diebold Inc. subsidiary Diebold Election Systems' electronic voting software and the company's responses.

System security flaws: Hopkins researchers found that if electronic voting code has security flaws, unscrupulous voters or malevolent insiders — including election officials, the developers of the voting systems and the developers of the embedded operating system on which the voting system runs — could exploit those flaws.

Diebold's response: It would take a conspiracy to exploit such security holes. The electoral process is designed to prevent fraud.

Tamper-resistant results: Hopkins researchers found that election results could be tampered with if transmitted between the machines and a home base. Diebold's code does not authenticate the far end of the transmission or check the data's integrity, so the results could be intercepted and changed en route.

Diebold's response: The machines do not transmit anything over public networks. At the discretion of local officials, they may transmit unofficial results over a dedicated network after polls close.

Incorrect cryptography: University researchers found that Diebold systems use cryptography incorrectly in some cases and not at all in others where the need for it would seem obvious and necessary.

Diebold's response: The researchers analyzed an old version of the code. The systems have passed "rigorous functional tests and reviews."

No change-control process: Researchers found that the voting systems seem to lack a change-control process, which could allow a developer to insert malevolent code into the software without being detected.

Diebold's response: The company does have a system to detect such things. "Making such changes would require a conspiracy among nearly all the developers in the company, in addition to members of the quality assurance group," Diebold officials said.

Hacker vulnerabilities: A hacker could forge the smart cards that voters use to cast ballots, allowing one person to cast multiple votes. Furthermore, if extra votes are detected, in the absence of a paper record, there is no way to know which are false.

Diebold's response: The system uses cards with a distinct configuration, not generic, readily available ones. If someone did create false cards, it would be a high-risk way to cast a small number of additional votes. And the extra votes would be detected during a reconciliation process that compares the number of votes cast to the number of voters who signed in throughout the day.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group