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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.