HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Ex-MI6 Boss: When It Comes To Voting, Pencil And Paper Are 'Much More Secure' Than Electronic Systems

from the and-he-should-know dept

Techdirt has been worried by problems of e-voting systems for a long time now. Before, that was just one of our quaint interests, but over the last few months, the issue of e-voting, and how secure it is from hacking, specifically hacking by foreign powers, has become a rather hot topic. It's great that the world has finally caught up with Techdirt, and realized that e-voting is not just some neat technology, and now sees that democracy itself is at play. The downside is that because the stakes are so high, the level of noise is too, and it's really hard to work out how worried we should be about recent allegations, and what's the best thing to do on the e-voting front.

What we really need is someone distant from the current US debate, and yet with a great deal of knowledge of how foreign intelligence services hack into computer systems. Maybe someone like Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, the UK's CIA. Here's what he said recently to the BBC on the subject of e-voting:

"Bizarrely the stubby pencil and piece of paper that you put your cross on in the ballot box is actually much more secure than anything which is electronic."

And added:

"The more things that go online, the more susceptible you are to cyber attacks."

Since MI6 has probably been involved in quite a few of those attacks, Sir John speaks with a certain authority. He also has a good analysis of why there is this constant push for e-voting, even though security experts are pretty unanimous in their warnings of the dangers:

"The only trouble is, the younger generation of people expect to be able to do things remotely and through electronic devices."

That also goes some way to explaining the naivety of most people when it comes to the Internet of Things. Many people just "expect" everything to be digital and online and linked to its own app, even when it's just a hair brush.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: cybersecurity, e-voting, evoting, john sawers, mi6, security, uk


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    jameshogg (profile), 9 Jan 2017 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: been bitching about voting systems...

    "and there's no way to reconstruct the original order."

    Except the hidden script that would record the order in memory. If this were an attempted magic trick shuffling cards, an audience would be quite right to assume something else is going on inside that CPU and it would be a lousy trick, because computers can't be trusted to really shuffle the cards.

    With an empty tangible box that can be witnessed to be locked in that empty state beforehand, not even the most sophisticated trick-boxes in the world would be able to tell from hundreds of folded, concealed papers which order they went in.

    People can see empty boxes, they can't see empty bits.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.