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Over-shadowing the NDP Leadership conference on March 24th were delays in the members e-voting system apparently due to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. While the online program was delayed during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ballots, the NDP have stated no data was actually breached – a headache yes.

DDoS Attack

DDoS Attack

As Adam Stirling pointed out during our interview this has similarities to voter suppression phone calls during the May 2011 Federal election. So, can e-voting ever be included as part of an election process? In the first half of the interview, we discuss the possible impact to the technological side of elections, followed by the role of social media in the leadership campaigns.

some Twitter stats – via politwitter.ca

Paul Dewar: 8872 followers. 50 Klout score
Thomas Mulcair: 8120 followers. 44 Klout score
Brian Topp: 7946 followers. No Klout score recorded
Peggy Nash: 6607 followers. 17 Klout
Nathan Cullen: 6489 followers. 48 Klout
Niki Ashton: 4114 followers. 44 Klout

Update: Tuesday March 27th

In a statement to media, the company contracted by the NDP to run the advanced and convention e-voting system noted “Well over 10,000 malevolent IP addresses (computers) have been identified so far, as having generated many hundreds of thousands of false voting requests to the system”

via Canada Wire

What Happened

Scytl Canada was contracted by the New Democratic Party of Canada in an open, global competition to provide the voting services for both advanced and election-day balloting.  The advanced balloting was performed via electronic and mail-in ballots using a preferential voting process. This occurred flawlessly, without incident.

The first round of balloting began at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 23 and was completed on schedule at 09:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, 2012.  When the second round of balloting began at 11:00 a.m., there were some initial voter delay and timeout reports that quickly increased in volume.

On receipt of these reports, Scytl determined that the voting system was operating normally and the user delays were being caused by a growing volume of external voter requests.  The logs of automated monitors such as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and firewalls were analyzed and Scytl quickly recognized that this might be an external attack on the system. Scytl technicians commenced standard mitigation procedures including increasing the system throughput, identifying and blocking malevolent IP sites and other actions.

Within 20 minutes following the evidence of external attacks, Scytl had an additional team of over twelve high-level personnel involved in these mitigation activities, which allowed the voting portals to be kept open albeit in a slower mode. By keeping ahead of the attackers, Scytl was able to allow the voting process to proceed with an overall three-hour delay.
Preliminary Attack Analysis

Scytl has performed a preliminary forensic analysis on the attack and has concluded the following:

This was an organized and large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack launched against the voting system in an orchestrated, professional, albeit illegal manner.
Well over 10,000 malevolent IP addresses (computers) have been identified so far, as having generated many hundreds of thousands of false voting requests to the system. This effectively “jammed up the pipe” into the voting system, delaying voter access. This network of malevolent computers, commonly known as a “botnet”, was located on computers around the world but mainly in Canada.
The required organization and the demonstrated orchestration of the attack indicates that this was a deliberate effort to disrupt or negate the election by a knowledgeable person or group.
ABOUT SCYTL CANADA

Scytl Canada is a company incorporated in Toronto, Ontario. Scytl Canada is a subsidiary of Scytl Secure Electronic Voting.

Scytl Secure Electronic Voting (www.scytl.com) is a technology company specializing in the development of secure electronic voting and electoral modernization. It has conducted over 100,000 voting events since its founding in 1994.

Based in Barcelona and with subsidiaries in Baltimore, Toronto, New Delhi, Athens and Kiev, Scytl’s solutions have been used in public elections by governments from countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India and Australia, among others.

Podcast: With host Adam Stirling (@adam_stirling) on CFAX 1070, Victoria BC

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