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

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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?