The report from Ottawa is that the Liberal government wants Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to advise politicians and Elections Canada on computer security. Just why these should be the people to ask is the important question?
And since the listening agency is no longer so secret, one can now ask that question. It was in the early days of World War II that Canada started to develop a lead in signals intelligence when its researchers were listening in to the short-wave conversations of the Nazi regime and Vichy France. Combined with the learning from the Hydra operation on signal propagation at a top- secret training camp on Lake Ontario just west of the Oshawa General Motors properties, Canada came out of the war a leader in radio technology.
That is why nobody really questions the CSE expertise in listening to worldwide communications. In an era of digital communications, they have also become very expert in using computers to help them do their job. Whether the organization would also be adept at preventing hacking or even have expert knowledge of the processes is a question that needs answering. Nor do we expect the other partners in what has been known as ECHELON or the ‘Five Eyes’ (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States) have more such expertise in house.
We need to remember that most hacking of major computer systems is done by insiders. They can walk out the front door of the organization with the information and nobody can track it on them. Whether inspired by greed or a grudge, all organizations are vulnerable. The supposed expertise in Moscow or Beijing in computer hacking seems more inspired by Hollywood thrillers than reality.
And hacking a properly distributed voting system in an election is highly unlikely. A hack attempt using bots (robotic programs) would be immediately tracked and eliminated. A hack using the proper codes could only hack one voter at a time. Many years ago, we called that ‘personation.’ Attempts at such hacking can be tracked and the perpetrators will find a very old law applies and they could go to jail. It is not worth it.
Secure, fast, efficient and inexpensive distributed government servers can handle national elections electronically with ease. You could vote from home, from a telephone, at work, at your local library at any government office or at the local riding returning office. Canada has the computer expertise and the political experience to do it today.
Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry
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