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Re: Evidence Mounts that the Vote Was Hacked
From: Jei <jei () cc hut fi>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 08:40:45 +0200 (EET)

On Tue, 9 Nov 2004, Jay D. Dyson wrote:

Hash: SHA1

On Mon, 8 Nov 2004, Atom 'Smasher' wrote:

Evidence Mounts that the Vote Was Hacked

        Read the whole thing and didn't see any evidence.  Just wild
speculation and baseless conjecture.  Hell, there were countless counties
across the nation in which more people were registered to vote than were
eligible residents, but -- for some reason -- that ain't news.

It would be _major_ news, were it not America where it happened.
Even India managed to hold a secure digital election recently,
without any such major exit poll or other discrepancies happening.

Also note that Americans aren't the only people in the world with
capable intelligence agencies. Teenage kid hackers aren't the only
people who might influence US elections' outcomes, given a viable chance. You need to consider all the factors.

Digital voting needs to be as secure and reliable as bank accounts
are from an independent (democratic) nation's national security point
of view. A digital vote discrepancy == national bank account discrepancy, in it's importance, in this regard.

Arguing that vote discrepancies don't really matter, is like a system admin arguing that system binary checksum discrepancies do not matter.

In any case, it means you're royally f*cked, and although you may wish
to fantasize otherwise, it doesn't change the reality.

You need to know that you're secure, or your security people aren't
doing their job.

// Jei


                Hitchhiker's World (Issue #9)

                    Observable Elections

    Vipul Ved Prakash <mail () vipul net>
    November 2004

    This is an interesting time for electronic voting. India,
    the largest democracy in the world, went completely paper-
    free for its general elections earlier this year. For the
    first time, some 387 million people expressed their
    electoral right electronically. Despite initial concerns
    about security and correctness of the system, the election
    process was a smashing success. Over a million electronic
    voting machines (EVMs) were deployed, 8000 metric tonnes of
    paper saved[1] and the results made public within few hours
    of the final vote. Given the quarrelsome and heavily
    litigated nature of Indian democracy, a lot of us were
    expecting post-election drama, but only a few, if any,
    fingers were found pointing.

    Things didn't fare so well in the United States. The
    Dieobold electronic machines, slated for use in many states
    for the November 2004 Federal elections, turned out to have
    rather large security holes. Cryptography experts, Avi Rubin
    et al, did a formal analysis of the machines and found that
    they could be subverted to introduce votes that were never
    casted[2]. An independent government-backed analysis
    confirmed this[3] and concluded that the Diebold voting
    system "as implemented in policy, procedure, and technology,
    is at a high risk of compromise."

    It is clear, even to a cursory observer, that Diebold
    systems are sloppily designed, never mind the sloppiness is
    a function of incompetence or intent. The recent controversy
    from the "Black Box Voting" security advisory titled "the
    Diebold GEMS central tabulator contains a stunning security
    hole"[4] has added to the confusion. It claims that a code
    entered at a remote location can replace the real vote count
    with a fabricated one. This security hole, discovered last
    year, is still not fixed says the advisory. In response,
    Diebold claims that this is possible, but only in debug
    mode, which does little to make people confortable.

    What is disturbing to me as a technologist is the
    burgeoning public opinion that electronics is an unviable
    medium for conducting the serious business of elections.
    Over the last year I've seen numerous formal reports and
    articles in popular press[5] equating the failures of
    Diebold systems with the untenability of electronic voting.
    This is rather silly. Diebold systems are not only poorly
    engineered, they are also seriously flawed in design. Even
    if they were immaculately bug-free, they are so far from
    what electronic voting systems should be, that I have
    trouble categorizing them as "voting systems". "Electronic
    counters" is more accurate.

    Various augmentations have been proposed to Diebold systems;
    most revolve around parallel paper trails. Verified
    Voting[6] for example proposes that a vote be printed based
    on the voter's touch-screen selection, so the voter can
    touch, feel and verify their vote before casting it into a
    traditional ballet box. These votes would then be processed
    with an OCR type machine to compute a cumulative result and
    the physical votes would be saved so an independent party
    can verify the electronic result at a latter date. This is a
    reasonable tradeoff -- after all integrity of elections is
    way more important than saving trees and time.

    While this is the best recommendation for the upcoming
    elections, it subtly promotes the primacy of paper and
    distrust in electrons. We know that paper elections are no
    more secure. The history of vote tampering in paper based
    elections is quite illustrious (I'll simply refer the gentle
    reader to [7]) and the reason electronics was considered in
    the first place was to eliminate such tampering. Verified
    Voting recommends that count of the physical votes is to be
    considered superior than that of the electronic counterparts
    in case of a difference. What happens if the process of this
    count is tampered using traditional methods? We are back to
    square one.

    The central point that I want to get across in this paper is
    that the promise of electronic voting is not merely a
    quicker, slightly more secure and ecologically enlightened
    replacement for paper elections. Electronic voting, if
    implemented correctly, could be a major qualitative leap,
    not only changing the way in which we approach democratic
    elections, but also the the way in which we expect a
    democratic government to function.

    Cryptographic Integrity

    I want to draw attention to the work done by cryptographic
    community in the last 20 years to study, formalize and solve
    many of the problems of Internet Voting. This area of work
    is focused on building election systems that leave behind a
    trail of mathematical proofs of the integrity of the voting
    process. With mathematical solutions to the common issues of
    vote tampering, it becomes unnecessary to trust election
    officials and it becomes possible to build voting systems
    that are open and universally verifiable.

    A voting system for appointing a democratic government has
    certain "ideal properties". These are rather obvious, but I
    recount them for the purpose of this discussion. First, all
    votes must be counted exactly like they were casted.
    Altering a vote, or leaving one out from the final tally
    must be impossible. Ballot stuffing, ie. artificial
    injection of invalid votes must be impossible as well. The
    system should reject non-eligible voters, and ensure
    eligible users can cast only a single vote. And, finally,
    votes must be absolutely anonymous -- even the voter should
    be unable to prove the way in which they voted. Systems like
    Diebold's depend on large-scale observation to uphold the
    ideal properties. Large-scale observation is hard, and once
    an act of tampering is done, there is little that can be
    done to detect or correct it. The attacks such as the one
    described by the Black Box Voting advisory are particularly
    heinous, since they compromise the entire election process.

    The ideal properties are true in paper elections when they
    are implemented perfectly, but the nature of paper precludes
    proofs of correctness without compromising anonymity. The
    problems are much the same as in the "Electronic Counter"
    systems; without correctness proofs, it is largely
    infeasible to detect and correct tampering.

    Cryptographers have been trying to emulate the property of
    anonymity that is inherent to paper when it us used as cash
    or votes. The research in the field has led to invention of
    several mathematical primitives and computing systems that
    not only model paper but go beyond to provide proofs of the
    properties they emulate. Techniques like blind signatures,
    homomorphic encryption, digital mixes and onion routing have
    been used to build systems that provide strong anonymity.

    The pioneering cryptographer David Chaum introduced the
    blind signature in order to build permit truly anonymous
    interaction on the Internet[8]. Since then, they have been
    applied to all manner of problems from untraceable
    electronic cash to electronic voting schemes. Blind
    signatures are a class of digital signatures that allow a
    document to be signed without revealing its contents. The
    effect is similar to placing a document and a sheet of
    carbon paper inside an envelope. When the envelope is
    signed, the signature transfers to the document and remains
    on it even when the envelope is removed.

    In his paper, Chaum hinted that blind signatures could be
    used for secret ballot elections. Fujioka, Okamoto, and
    Ohta[9] created the first significant blind signature based
    voting protocol, which made it practical to use blind
    signatures in democratic elections. However, some problems
    were discovered in their work, most notably the system's
    vulnerablity to a corrupt election authority. I present a
    system, dubbed ``Athens'', that builds on their work, but
    solves several problems in their model. I also focus on a
    real-world election system, rather than an Internet one, and
    adopt a pragmatic approach, in that I make use of physical
    resources like volunteers and physical infrastructure
    usually available for large-scale democratic elections.
    Athens also borrows elements and thinking from the
    Sensus[10] system and David Chaum's recent work on Visual

    Design of Athens

    The basic procedure for conducting a democratic election is
    fairly standard. The procedure has four tasks: Registration,
    Validation, Collection and Tallying. In Athens, these four
    tasks are carried out with a few specialized machines and
    software, most of which are connected through the Internet.
    While Athens employs an Election Authority to oversee the
    process of elections, it does away with the dependence on
    trustworthiness of one. Athens philosophy is that there are
    no truly non-partisan parties; even the Election Authority
    can't be completely trusted. The Athens model is closer to a
    "game" between contesting parties, such that the only way to
    cheat in the game is for all competitors to collude - an
    axiomatic impossibility. The Election Authority performs
    tactical tasks to optimize the election process, but all
    tasks performed by the Authority are open to review by
    competing parties.


    Registration is the process of determining eligible voters,
    and is conducted by the "Registrar" -- a distributed
    authority put in place by the Election Authority. The Athens
    registration process involves validating voters (through
    traditional means) and registering their "Voter Public Key"
    in the "Register." The corresponding "Voter Secret Key"
    remains with the voter, magnetically encoded (or bar coded
    for cheaper implementation) on a "Voting Card".

    The keys are generated through the "Voting Card Creator
    Machine". The Card Creator Machine is also implemented as
    software that can be used by a voter on their home computer.
    It is not hard to imagine Card Creators installed in local
    registration offices or even at Kinko's and shopping malls,
    where they charge a few dollars for generating a card.
    Fairness in design is important, because Card Creators could
    compromise the security of the system by storing the key
    pairs they generate.

    A card creator is mostly an RSA key generator - it needs
    computing power of a 300 Mhz PC, and is constructed fairly
    cheaply. Once the voter enters their personal information
    into the machine, it spits out two cards: one with the
    public key, that is handed over to the Registrar and the
    other with the secret key and identification information
    required by the Election Authority (like the social security
    number of the voter.) The second card is known as the
    "Voting Card" and is used to validate the voter at the time
    of elections. Both cards also contain a large random number,
    known as the Voter Id. This is used throughout the voting
    process to facilitate lookups in the Register without
    compromising the privacy of the voter.

    Once all voters have handed their Voter Public Key Card over
    to the Registrar, the registration process is considered to
    be complete. As with traditional elections, there is a cut-
    off date for this process.

    On completion of registration, the Election Authority hands
    the Register over to all the competitors. The competitors
    then check every 1 in 1000 entries (or more according to
    their capacity) to ensure that they belong to a legitimate
    voter, i.e. it isn't a fake entry inserted by a corrupt
    competitor to stuff the ballot. This process is woefully
    lacking in elections of today, and a hence a major vector
    for election fraud. Mathematics can do little to alleviate
    the dangers of registering fake voters, but competitors who
    depend on the correctness of the Register and raise funds
    for the purpose can easily perform this task. Register
    verification would be a lucrative business for independent
    professional services organizations, so it is not hard to
    imagine such organizations sprouting up to assume delegation
    of this responsibility.

    The competitors also put the Register on the Internet before
    the election so that voters can ensure their voter key is
    present in all copies of the Register. When requested, each
    competing party provides a digitally signed proof that the
    voter is registered to vote, i.e. their key is present in
    the Register. The voter, if denied the right to vote, can
    take this proof to a court of law. A pre-voting verification
    of eligibility limits the kind of fiasco that occurred in
    Florida during the Presidential elections of 2000, where a
    large number of people were denied vote.


    In most electronic voting protocols, there exists the notion
    of the "Validator" - a party that holds the Register and
    validates voters during the election. In Athens, the
    competing parties, that were handed a copy of the Register
    in the previous step, all serve as Validators. Athens,
    therefore, is a multi-validator system. It is reasonable to
    assume that independents or fiscally constrained parties
    would team up and have a single Validator represent them.

    Validators are connected to the Internet and run Validation
    software, that accepts validation requests over a TCP port.
    The Validators are firewall'ed off to accept data only from
    certain IP addresses. The Electronic Voting Machines talk to
    the Validators via a Proxy. EVMs could theoretically talk
    directly to Validators, but the reasons for using a proxy
    will become apparent later. The Proxy is operated by the
    Election Authority and observed by representatives from all
    competing parties.

    Validators have their own RSA key pair, the public portion
    of which is published widely over the Internet. They also
    maintain two lists (other than the Register). This is the
    list of voters who have casted a vote and a list of
    corresponding validation requests.

    Before the commencement of the election, the Election
    Authority chooses a a random number which is known as the
    "Election Number". The only property of this number is its
    uniqueness to the election - it should not have been used in
    a previous election. The Election Number is distributed to
    all Validators.

    Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in Athens are quite
    unlike Diebold's or the ones used in the Indian elections.
    Athens' EVMs are simply "agents" that vote on behalf of the
    voter. Each EVM has an Id and a RSA key pair. The public
    part of the EVM key is published widely over the Internet.
    Communications initiated by the EVM are signed with EVMs
    secret key. The elections are considered formally commenced,
    when the Validators broadcast the Election Number and their
    public keys to EVMs via the Proxy.

    The Athens Voting Protocol

    The voter enters a private booth and swipes their Voting
    Card on the EVM. The EVM reads the secret key and the Voter
    Id off the Card. The EVM has a little printer attached to
    it, much like a cash register receipt printer, on which it
    prints out the Voter Id. It the sends the voter Id off to
    the Validators via the proxy to initiate a "voting session"
    on behalf of the voter. If the voter has already casted a
    vote, Validators return a "proof" of previously casted vote.
    The proof and its implications are discussed a little later.
    If there's no previous vote, the Validators send a positive
    acknowledgment and the EVM asks the voter to cast a ballot.
    The voter enters their vote using the on-screen display. The
    EVM concatenates the Voter's choice with the Election Number
    (EN) and the result is encrypted with a secret key (randomly
    generated) using a symmetric cipher like AES. The encrypted
    ballot is then blinded. At this point, the EVM has:



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