Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Most electronic voting isn't secure, CIA expert says

The Risks Digest points to an article about a CIA agent testifying before the Election Assistance Commission. His position is that electronic votes are not secure and can be altered and further, are being altered already in some locales.

The CIA agent, a cybersecurity expert, suggested that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his allies fixed a 2004 election recount, a pronouncement that could further agitate U.S. relations with the Latin leader.

In a presentation that could provide foreboding lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming preeminent, Steve Stigall summarized what he described as attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations. Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results.
"You heard the old adage 'follow the money,' " Stigall said, according to a transcript of his hour-long presentation that McClatchy obtained. "I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to . . . make bad things happen."

Stigall said that some countries had taken extraordinary steps that improved security. For example, he said internet systems that encrypt vote results so they're unrecognizable during transmission "greatly complicates malicious corruption."

After reviewing the agent's remarks, director of election reform for the citizens' lobby 'Common Cause, Susannah Goodman says they showed
"we can no longer ignore the fact that all of these risks are present right here at home . . . and must secure our election system by requiring every voter to have his or her vote recorded on a paper ballot."

See complete article in McClatchy Newspapers.