New Zealand’s electoral commission is confident no one can hack into its servers and access election results, but there’s still a possibility cyber criminals could target its website. Amid an election campaign that has been dominated by emails of controversial blogger Cameron Slater leaked by a hacker known as Rawshark, it seems no system is impenetrable to rogues with the right skills and network. Hackers in the United States have also previously shown how they can circumvent the security measures on electronic voting machines to change votes. Despite the risk of manipulation, there’s been no reported instances of votes in the US being compromised. New Zealand’s Electoral Commission doesn’t want to disclose how it fights cyber attacks, but says it has a robust system in place for the September 20 election. “The Electoral Commission takes information security and privacy very seriously,” said chief electoral officer Robert Peden.
NetSafe CEO Martin Cocker says hackers are adept at using tools to break through secure systems. “The commission conducts regular risk assessments of its IT systems and has security assurance processes in place.” …
“There is definitely a technical knowledge barrier to being a cyber criminal, but it’s not as high as many people would think,” he said.
While Mr Cocker thinks it’s unlikely hackers could change New Zealand’s election results, he says it’s a different story for the Electoral Commission’s website. “Any electronic service used to deliver communications about the result could be targeted, and potentially hacked or brought down in some way,” he said. “Hacking and changing the outcome of the election is going to be a nearly impossible task.
“You could certainly create some confusion much more easily than changing the results.”