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Mishlai
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I got pissed off there. I'll try to post a more thorough response later.
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Mishlai
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to be long. Like, you should go pee first.

Okay, let's review. Your argument, if I understand it correctly, is this:

1) We have adequate physical security to thwart an attempt at tampering with electronic voting (hereafter called E voting.)
2) The number of people who are capable of exploiting any weaknesses is small, and
2a) This makes the E voting more secure than it otherwise would be.
3) A large number of people (virtually everyone) are capable of exploiting weaknesses in paper voting, and
3a) This make paper voting less secure than it otherwise would be.
4) There is inadequate security for paper voting, as demonstrated by
4a) incidents of voting fraud in the past as well as
4b) personal observation of security conditions at the polls
5) You've stated that ballot counting is performed unsupervised
6) You've stated that the machines and ballot boxes have the same level of supervision.
7) You've stated that a corrupt counter presents the same magnitude of risk as a compromised E voting machine.

And you conclude from all of this, if I understand you correctly, the following:
I) That a counter, who would be unsupervised, is a greater risk than E voting because he can cause the same damage and because no special skills are required and there are therefore more people capable of performing this attack.
II) That a ballot stuffer, or many of them, are more likely to be able to carry out an attack because the physical security around ballot boxes is not sufficient to prevent this.

And from both of these you then conclude that paper voting is less secure than E voting. Please correct me if I have misunderstood or misrepresented your position, or if you simply wish to change it. Meanwhile, I will address your position as I have understood it.

I assert that:
1) A voter casts his or her vote in privacy. (Not necessarily total privacy, but some.)
2) In the case of paper voting, the voter places his or her vote into the ballot box without privacy. (The vote may be covered, but the action of placing the vote into the box, or of placing multiple votes into the box, is subject to the scrutiny of physical security.)
3) That in order to cast his or her vote in privacy in an E voting system, a voter must therefore have some degree of private access to the E voting machine.
4) Because voting is a process that takes some time, that private access takes places over a period of time.
4a) That this time can be minutes long without raising suspicion
4b) That this time is longer than the time that could be spent putting a ballot into a ballot box without raising suspicion.
5) That these conditions are necessary given that we want voters to vote in private.
6) That the E voting machine (that the voter has private access to) either performs a portion of the counting or provides input to a machine that does.


Conclusion I) That the physical security surrounding an E voting machine is less than the security surrounding a ballot box.
Conclusion Ia) That this diminished physical security is not just incidental, but arises necessarily by the privacy requirements of voting.

This refutes Assertion #6 from your argument (as I have described it), that the machines and ballot boxes have the same level of supervision. Clearly not true.

It's possible that what you meant by that statement is not that the security is the same during the voting process, but that after voting the machines would be given the same physical security as a ballot box full of votes. This brings up another point:

7) The hardware, firmware, and software of an E voting machine are capable of being compromised in advance of the election.
8) Vulnerability demonstration done with the Diebold voting machine has shown that the machines can be compromised in such a way that they pass testing but report incorrect election results.
8a) It follow from #8 that it is not straightforward to detect previous tampering.
9) Ballot boxes are simple to verify as empty prior to use, and this is sufficient to detect previous tampering for the counting of paper votes.
10) Any system that requires constant security is, all other things equal, less secure than one that only requires security for a period of days or weeks.

Conclusion II) It is therefore necessary to either:
IIa) Maintain adequate physical security not just during voting and during the counting process, but 24/7 365 days a year, starting from the day it was manufactured. (And ditto for any critical components, the master copy of firmware & software that is used to load machines, and so on.)
-or-
IIb) Have a system of testing that can reliably and confidently detect previous tampering.

11) Even with my limited computer science background I'm comfortable asserting that IIb is a difficult thing to do, and that such systems are not currently in place for E voting.


Conclusion III) Barring a newly designed E voting machine architecture that makes pre-voting day system verification both easy and thorough, E voting machines present a much larger and more expensive physical security problem than ballot boxes.

12) The amount of time that it would take a counter to swap ballot boxes, add a large number of votes, or remove and dispose of a large number of votes is similar to the time that it would take such a counter to compromise an E voting machine.
13) That if a counter is likely to get unrestricted, unsupervised access to ballots and ballot boxes, then that same counter is also likely to have unrestricted and unsupervised access to the E voting machines. (1 minute commonly cited for compromising the Diebold machine. 7 minutes commonly cited for some others.)

Conclusion IV) The only thing making it more likely -according to your reasoning - that a counter would cause a significant compromise to paper votes vs E votes is that compromising E votes requires more technical skill.

14) That a significant compromise of an E voting machine can be accomplished with small, easily concealable tools such as a memory card.
15) That swapping out, adding, or removing large numbers (boxes full) of votes requires the transport of materials that are not easy to conceal, such as boxes full of votes.

Conclusion V) It is easier to conceal the materials required to commit fraud on an E voting machine from building surveillance while trafficking in and out of the building.

16) That security experts have asserted that is is possible for an infected E voting machine to later compromise the entire database once they are connected to it.
17) That a corrupt counter with completely unrestricted access to ballots and ballot boxes in his or her district still cannot compromise other voting districts.

Conclusion VI) With E voting compromise at a single district has the potential to compromise the results in other districts, and potentially across that entire system which may span multiple states.
Conclusion VIa) That this represent an E voting threat that is on such a large scale, and based only on a single point failure, that paper voting fraud has no analog.

18) That your assertion that the systems are more or less secure based on the prevalence of the skillset required to compromise them is an argument of Security Through Obscurity.
19) That computer security experts and hackers have frequently argued and demonstrated that Security Through Obscurity is not very good security.
20) That security professionals who demonstrated the Diebold vulnerability stated that it could have been originally exploited by any computer science major.
21) That computer science majors are not particularly rare in this day and age.
22) That in computer security, the skill required to exploit a vulnerability with a given exploit is less than the skill require to create that exploit.
23) That the skill set required to compromise a Diebold machine, for example, is the ability to open a panel with a key and insert a memory card.
23a) That the skill set described by #23 is possessed by roughly the same number of people as can swap the memory card in a digital camera, and that this is not a rare skill set.
24) That the technical difficulty of the problem reduces the number of people who are capable of understanding and/or effectively monitoring for security breaches.

Conclusion VII) Obscurity does not provide E voting with greater security.
Conclusion VIIa) Obscurity causes people, such as yourself, to falsely underestimate the risks involved.

25) That whatever vulnerabilities exist in the paper system amount to physical security problems.
26) That physical security problems that do not conflict with the privacy needs of voting are straightforward and tractable.
27) That the physical security needs of paper voting do not conflict with the privacy needs of a voter because it is possible to verify that only a single vote is being placed in the ballot box without revealing the contents of that vote.

Conclusion VIII) If sufficient security resources were directed at the paper voting process, it could be made very secure.

28) That the physical security needs of E voting do conflict with the privacy needs of a voter, since that voter needs private access to a machine that can be compromised to affect the vote.
29) That the counting nature of the E voting machine makes this scenario similar to putting ballot boxes in the private voting area, where the voters would have access to them for several minutes.
30) That it is a fundamental tenant of computer security that if someone has physical access to your system, they can own your system.


Conclusion IX) That security in an E voting scenario is limited by voter privacy, and that security in a paper voting scenario is not limited by that same privacy.

31) That in addition to suffering from attack, the results of an E voting system can also be compromised by unintentional bugs.
32) That unintentional bugs cannot be caught by physical security since they are inserted through proper channels.
33) That computer science tell us that it is not possible to know that a chunk of code is error free.
34) A bug could cause the system to lose a large number of votes.
35) That in the absence of a paper backup such votes would be lost forever.

Conclusion X) E voting carries a risk of design error that could cause substantial and permanent loss of votes even without a malicious attack.

From all of these: because the security surrounding an E voting machine during the voting process is necessarily less than ballot box security, because the physical security requirements and/or security design requirements of an E voting system in general exceed those of a paper voting system, because the potential compromise of an E voting system is system wide, because of the ease of concealing the act of compromising an E voting machine, because of the difficulty of testing the system for proper operation, because of the difficulty of detecting an electronic fraud, and because obscurity does not provide E voting with security, because untrusted individuals are given private, physical access, because of the risk of computer bugs....

Conclusion XI) E voting, in it's current incarnation, is not just fundamentally less secure than paper voting but necessarily so.

I concede that with excellent design it may be possible to make E voting very secure. I can imagine alarms and tamper tape. I can imagine system architectures that facilitate easy and verifiable testing - in particular by making the component being tested unable to determine whether this is a test or a real vote, I can imagine (and this conversation started with a link to) ingenious encryption solutions designed to make the system secure, but we have not implemented such things.

It seems to me that a machine like the one shown in that Diebold vulnerability video was designed not with security in mind, but to function correctly when not tampered with. I work on commercial and industrial control system regularly, and the situation is similar there. They function correctly, but are not particularly tamper resistant. Iran just found that out the hard way.

The stakes are high in an election, the motivation to compromise it is substantial. Designing secure computer systems is not an easy thing - even a computing giant like Google attempting to design a secure web browser has met with limited success.

If Google, in a ground-up redesign with security as a primary focus, cannot make my web browsing experience completely secure, then we must give pause to the notion that security will arise naturally from a design that does not appear to have taken security as a primary design goal. If there is a voting machine that has thwarted attempt to compromise it, then I am unaware of that. These are not secure systems, and computer fraud is a largely invisible problem.

This is the architecture of my fallacious paranoia. Feel free to poke, prod, refute, correct, etc.
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You are the result of 4 billion years of evolutionary success.

Fucking act like it.

"The stars died so that you could be here today" - Lawrence Krauss

"The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time." - Lawrence Krauss
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CrushFearSynth
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Joined: 13 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll say in advance I'm not really going to read that last post, no time. But I will respond to the earlier post.

Quote:
there's no reason we could have surveillance of election counting

It does bring up privacy issues.

It is no fantasy to see that the numbers and statistics are on my side. More people with the potential to commit fraud = greater risk. Period. Perhaps you would be happy if we frisked everyone going to an E-poll. And one corrupt counter is no better monitored than we are at paper stations. I wonder how you feel about the last GW election? It is fallacious paranoia to believe that because the potential for risk exists, the option should not be used. That's ridiculous. There will always and forever be risk in everything. We do what we can, and must rely mostly on reactionary responses to risks. If there is a potential problem, you can bet far smarter people than we who design these systems have already thought of it and are already thinking of and implementing solutions. That does not justify your total lack of confidence. I, for one, will be voting at the closest E-polling station if available.
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Mishlai
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No need to respond if you haven't read. I know it's a lot, but you called down the thunder.
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You are the result of 4 billion years of evolutionary success.

Fucking act like it.

"The stars died so that you could be here today" - Lawrence Krauss

"The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time." - Lawrence Krauss
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Mishlai
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and I said surveillance of election counting, not voting. I don't see that as a privacy issue at all.
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You are the result of 4 billion years of evolutionary success.

Fucking act like it.

"The stars died so that you could be here today" - Lawrence Krauss

"The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time." - Lawrence Krauss
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Mishlai
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Necro-Thread!!!!

1) Holy crap, I'm not reading all of that either. What was I thinking?
2) Hey Crush, remember when we used to be at each other's throats all the time? Ah, the good ol' days.
3) Ok, seriously, we need the election reform that was being discussed with Fredrick way back in the day. That's why I rezzed this thread.
4) There's some Ashlad win back there, too. "8. I want my government to go fuck itself." is a favorite.
5) I really liked italics back then, didn't I?

Fredrick's website is still up, and it's still pretty bad. It looks like it has been updated since the last time I saw it though.
http://www.localparty.org/
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You are the result of 4 billion years of evolutionary success.

Fucking act like it.

"The stars died so that you could be here today" - Lawrence Krauss

"The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time." - Lawrence Krauss
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CrushFearSynth
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't really perceive it as being at eachother's throats, for all our disagreements I had genuine fun debating. But good ol' days, indeed. Just not much time anymore.

The only election reforms I want to see in place are the elimination of the electoral college and an end to all lobbying across the board.
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Ryken
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Joined: 19 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CrushFearSynth wrote:
The only election reforms I want to see in place are the elimination of the electoral college and an end to all lobbying across the board.


Just that. Nothing much.
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Trassin
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Necro thread indeed.
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