Connect with us

Security

NSW Electoral Commission claims physical separation mitigates Swiss voting flaw

Published

on


(Image: Joe McKendrick)

The NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) has claimed it is not impacted by the security issues that were disclosed about the Swiss e-voting system overnight, thanks to using an air-gapped machine, even though the flaw exists in its iVote system.

“The identification of this issue does not affect the use of iVote for the NSW State election,” the NSW Electoral Commission said in a statement.

As described by security researchers Sarah Jamie Lewis, Olivier Pereira, and Vanessa Teague, the flaw is found in the mixnet component that shuffles votes in an effort to remove the ability to link votes to individual electors.

“The implementation of the commitment scheme in the SwissPost-Scytl mixnet uses a trapdoor commitment scheme, which allows anyone who knows the trapdoor values to generate a shuffle-proof transcript that passes verification but actually alters votes,” the researchers said.

“This allows undetectable vote manipulation by an authority who implemented or administered a mix server.”

Must read: E-voting is still the wrong answer to the wrong question

However, the NSWEC claims it is unaffected because its mixnet is not connected to any systems, and is “securely housed” at the NSWEC.

“In order for this weakness to be an issue, a person would need to gain access to the physical machine. They would need all the right credentials and the right code to alter the software,” a spokesperson for NSWEC said.

“Our processes reduce this risk as we specifically separate the duties of people on the team and control access to the machine to reduce the potential for an insider attack.”

The electoral commission said Scytl is still delivering a patch for the flaw, and that it is confident in the security of iVote.

“iVote is an important voting channel to ensure equal access to democracy, particularly for people with disability and remote voters, and we will continue working to strengthen its operation,” the spokesperson said.

Tell ’em they’re dreaming: Australia Post details plan to use blockchain for voting

On Twitter, Lewis pointed out the high level of auditing the system was subjected to.

“I also think it’s very important that everyone who might find themselves in a nation implementing electronic voting is aware of how many audits, and public puffery the Swiss election system has gone through. It is very important you understand how well audited this system was,” the researcher said.

Two other researchers also discovered the mixnet flaw.

In 2015, Teague was part of a team that discovered iVote was susceptible to the FREAK vulnerability.

Once again, the findings appeared close to a week out from polling day.

“The commission has now had time to review the claims made by Dr Teague and Dr Halderman, and has received advice from our information security auditors,” the NSWEC said at the time. “The commission’s principal security advisers CSC Cyber Security ANZ noted that Dr Teague and Dr Halderman’s claims about the vulnerabilities in iVote are overstated.

Previously: NSW Electoral Commission scrambles to patch iVote flaw

“The proposed FREAK attack requires a high level of technical expertise and a number of pre-conditions to be successful, and as such is not considered a real threat to iVote. We have been advised that the likelihood of someone intercepting votes online using this approach is as real as a malicious postman replacing a postal vote.”

The similarities between the incidents do not end there, with Scytl questioning the motivation of the researchers, as the NSWEC did four years ago.

The iVote system has been subsequently used in elections in Western Australia.

Related Coverage

Online voting: Now Estonia teaches the world a lesson in electronic elections

In this month’s Estonian parliamentary elections, a whopping 44 percent of the ballot was cast using e-voting.

EU to tech giants: Step up fake news fight before European elections

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla have all made progress fighting disinformation campaigns, but they “need to go further and faster before May,” the European Commission warns.

Australian Electoral Commission wants money to fix ageing IT systems

The Australian Electoral Commission has said it needs money to update its election IT systems, warning that the existing ones are at the end of their useful life.

NSW iVote ballot mistake put down to human error

The NSW Electoral Commission’s CIO Ian Brightwell has said that human error was at the core of an electronic ballot problem on the NSW iVote system that may have the potential to see some of the results from last month’s state election thrown into question.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Security

CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

Published

on

Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

Continue Reading

Security

Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

Published

on

Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

Continue Reading

Security

When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

Published

on

DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

Continue Reading

Trending