To Vote, Or Not To Vote With An Internet Voting System, That’s The Question!

Voting booths used for the L’Ordre des Avocats...

Voting booths used for the L’Ordre des Avocats de Paris (Paris Bar Association) 2007 election. The booths are in the library of the Palais de Justice, Paris and contain Internet-enabled touch screen voting systems. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Internet security is a cat and mouse game (i.e., Tom and Jerry).  The nature of the Internet has allowed hackers to stay one step ahead of law enforcements.  Even the FBI admits this in Cnet U.S. ‘not winning’ war with hackers, says FBI bigwig article.  What a particular hacker or hacker organization has done what lately has become an occurrent theme for the news headlines that proliferate the Internet, and so many of us have become somewhat familiar with hackers’ capabilities.

News headlines on hackers and their amazing hacks are definitely making people aware of how vulnerable the Internet has become.  I think before the Internet has become so vulnerable, the Internet was once a naive kid.  The funny thing is that back in the day when the Internet was still a naive kid, the Internet must had been more secure.  It was all about security through obscurity?  Of course, security through obscurity is equally as bad as having weak security, because obscurity isn’t a solution but just an attempt to hide the weakness of a system.  As we have seen how the obscurity eventually failed to obscure the Internet’s insecurity and led to the Internet security problems of today.

The widespread of Internet security problems are continually growing as we speak, because the Internet isn’t confining to a country.  Instead of becoming just the problems for a local geographic area, the Internet has made the world so interconnected that anyone who has enough knowledge of a system and a will can actually hack into a system from an ocean away.  This knowledge is cemented with news headlines of successful hack attacks that have been carried out by the hackers.  Yet, even with this knowledge, some people want to have an Internet voting!

(When I say Internet isn’t confining to a country, I’m not promoting a Great Wall of firewall of a country, but I’m just saying!  In fact, I’m fond of an open Internet!  This means I want to promote an Internet which allows common sense freedoms and greater social interactions so many more people can combine and exchange knowledge to move civilizations ahead, in a positive direction!  For now though, moving civilizations ahead, Internet voting system isn’t one!)

Politics can be dangerous as it is, but bringing in another danger such as Internet voting is like begging for adding fuel onto a hungry fire.  A professor of University of Michigan, J. Alex Halderman, in the Slashdot TV’s Hacking an Internet-Based Voting System video mentioned how easy it was for him and his students to take up the challenge of hacking into an Internet voting system (i.e., for a mock election) and beat it — the purpose was to test the security of an Internet voting system.  Washington D.C. city officers opened the Internet voting hacking contest to the public (i.e., anyone could take up the challenge), and they found out that it took only couple hours for the professor and his students to completely take control and manipulate the Internet voting system.

Professor J. Alex Halderman claimed that it was a script injection method that broke through the security of the Internet voting system.  Some codes weren’t sanitized enough, therefore allowed the users of the Internet voting system to enter the malicious text strings to bypass the security of the Internet voting system.  Codes weren’t sanitized?  You might encounter bad codes that weren’t sanitized properly on frequent basis but you just didn’t know about them!  How?  One example would be, the websites you had visited weren’t properly sanitized the browser requests, allowing you to enter bad codes in the browsers’ address bars (i.e., URL) — the bad codes would then command the web servers to do things that weren’t nice to the web servers’ administrators and users.

According to professor J. Alex Halderman, we just don’t have the technology to secure an Internet voting system yet, therefore it is foolish to use an Internet voting system.  We might have to ask, is it foolish to vote the traditional ways too?  I don’t know the exact answer, because I think voting through an Internet voting system or not, any election can be rigged if someone tries hard enough.  Remember, the hackers were around before the existence of the Internet, because in general hackers were the people that were smart enough to rig any system.

So, if any voting system can be hacked, why do we need to only avoid the Internet voting system?  I think the Internet voting system is the least secure method to vote!  I’m saying that even though I don’t know much about the traditional voting systems, because I know it’s foolish to allow just about anybody from any part of the world to be able to manipulate the democracy of the United States, easily.  Like?  How?  What?  Someone in another country can just hacking away at our Internet voting system and manipulate the election results; a country that isn’t so fond of America can directly manipulate the election results of the United States from a computer.  I guess to end this blog post best by saying this, it’s foolish to allow any insecure voting system to be voted by so many people (i.e., the whole world)!