Feeds

Voteware source code review 'could lead to hacking'

Special minister of state raises bigger question: How secure is the Australian Electoral Commission?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Australia's special minister of state has weighed in on solicitor Michael Cordover's freedom of information request to peruse the source code of the application used to count votes in Australian Senate elections with a bizarre suggestion that granting such a request could “leave the voting system open to hacking or manipulation.”

Cordover first applied to see the source code of the EasyCount software last year, was rebuffed, and is now appealing the decision.

Last week Australia's Senate weighed in, passing a motion calling on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to release the code.

Special minister of state Senator Michael Ronaldson has since written to the Clerk of the Senate saying the AEC will do no such thing. The letter (PDF), posted by Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, offers one interesting reason for the refusal, namely that the software is commercial-in-confidence inasmuch as it is used for “industrial and fee-for-service election counting systems”.

That's a reference to the union elections and other polls the AEC conducts for paid clients, and therefore goes some way towards explaining why the system is considered commercial-in-confidence.

The letter also suggests that a code release is not appropriate given Cordover is appealing the AEC's response to his freedom-of-information requests.

But another reason Ronaldson offers is bizarre, as he suggests “I am advised the publication of the software could leave the voting system open to hacking or manipulation.”

Just how is not explained. Perhaps Ronaldson imagines that inspection of the code could lead to the identification of exploitable vulnerabilities.

If that's the case, he appears not to have much confidence in the AEC's overall security capabilities, as even if vulnerabilities were identified attackers would need to penetrate the Commission's networks to manipulate an election.

Might that already have happened? If so, might such attacks be the reason for the advice given to Ronaldson? Vulture South is looking into things. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.