Estonia, the only country in the world where voters elect their leaders through online balloting, is taking steps to fend off potential hacking attacks as cyber-security fears intensify. A software overhaul for the system, introduced in 2005, is ready for testing before local elections in October, according to Tarvi Martens, the National Electoral Committee’s head of e-voting. The upgrade includes anti-tampering features known as end-to-end verifiability that addresses security concerns from groups such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, he said. “End-to-end verifiability is the ‘Holy Grail’ for electronic voting,” Martens said this month in a phone interview. “When we talk about international criticism, the new software now addresses it.”
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Estonia.
Estonia: 10 Years After the Landmark Attack on Estonia, Is the World Better Prepared for Cyber Threats? | Foreign Policy
The Estonians just wanted to relocate a statue. Ten years ago today, authorities in Tallinn set out to remove a Soviet World War II memorial from the capital’s downtown. The Russian government had warned that removing the statue would be “disastrous for Estonians,” but since Moscow no longer called the shots in the Baltic state, the statue was duly shipped off to a suburban military cemetery. Soon after, Estonians found that they couldn’t use much of the internet. They couldn’t access newspapers online, or government websites. Bank accounts were suddenly inaccessible. “It was unheard of, and no one understood what was going on in the beginning,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then Estonian President, told Foreign Policy. Soon, he was informed that it was not an internal failure — but an attack from the outside. It was a Distributed Denial of Service Attack — an orchestrated swarm of internet traffic that literally swamps servers and shuts down websites for hours or days.
Blockchain technology can safely be used to authenticate e-voting by shareholders at a company’s annual general meeting, Nasdaq said this week, following a pilot project in Estonia. … Voting security experts in the U.S. were skeptical about the pilot project’s wider applicability, especially with regard to national elections. “Blockchain solves a small part of the overall set of problems [with e-voting], but nowhere near all,” said Pamela Smith, president of election integrity advocacy group Verified Voting. “If you have a boat with many leaks, plugging one of them should not make you assume the others won’t swamp you,” she told CyberScoop via email.
Long before Moscow became the prime suspect in the Democratic National Committee data breach, hackers tied to the Russian government have sought to sew political discord via the internet. Most notably, many experts believe that in 2007 Russian operatives unleashed a series of devastating cyberattacks on neighboring Estonia following a dispute with Moscow over a Soviet-era war memorial. At the time, Estonia had the world’s most connected society, giving attackers plenty of targets. They succeeded in taking down government computers, banks, and newspaper sites, trying to paralyze the “e-way of life” Estonians painstakingly crafted after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. And now, as a growing number of digital attacks hit countries’ most critical systems, from hospitals to electric utilities to voting infrastructure, Estonia has become a critical voice and an important model when it comes to preparing for escalating conflict in cyberspace.
Estonia’s opposition Center Party has long argued for closer ties with Moscow, but presidential candidate Mailis Reps has broken with that tradition, declaring herself “no friend of Russia.” In the shadow of Moscow’s aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the largely symbolic Estonian presidency has gained weight partly thanks to incumbent Toomas Hendrik Ilves’ strong arguments for the European Union and NATO to stand by Estonia and its Baltic neighbors. On August 29, the 101 members of Estonia’s parliament gather to vote for a new president. As it is unlikely to produce a clear two-thirds majority for any of the three declared candidates, a 335-strong electoral college of MPs and local leaders will likely be summoned in September to make the choice. According to a poll of MPs for the daily Postimees, the two leading contenders would be former prime minister and European commissioner Siim Kallas and Reps of the Center Party — and relations with Russia would be at the center of the debate.
Fearful of Russian cyber attack or invasion, the Baltic state of Estonia is planning to make a virtual copy of itself — in Britain.
Negotiations are under way between Tallinn and London for Estonia to back up terabytes of data — everything from birth records and the electoral roll to property deeds, banking credentials and the entire government bureaucracy — to deposit in a secure location in the UK, according to Estonian officials. Estonia already uses its embassies abroad to house servers to safeguard copies of government files. But amid an escalation of tensions with Moscow and growing concerns about cyber attacks from its eastern neighbour, Tallinn is now planning a far more ambitious set of contingency measures. It is a project that speaks to anxieties in the region, as well as the nature of statehood itself — and war — in an increasingly digitised world. “We have a very aggressive neighbour and we need to be sure that whatever happens to our territory in the future, Estonia can survive,” said Taavi Kotka, the government’s cyber chief. “In Estonia we already vote over the internet, we pay taxes over the internet — there’s almost nothing now we don’t do digitally.”
Estonia: European human rights court accepts appeal of Estonian e-voting critics | The Baltic Course
NGO Ausad Valimised (Honest Elections) connected with the Estonian Center Party announced that European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) accepted their appeal regarding a fine which was imposed on them by the Consumer Protection Board for a campaign which criticized Estonia’s e-elections, informs LETA/BNS. “The European Court of Human Rights decided to accept the appeal of MTU Ausad Valimised regarding a fine which was imposed on the NGO for a campaign that notified about the dangers and risks of e-election, and proposed to the sides a deal according to which the state would have to pay the NGO 9,000 euros,” said member of the NGO’s board Siret Kotka who is also a member of the Center Party board. According to Kotka, it means that the NGO won against the Estonian state.
Narva, an Estonian town on the Russian border, is tired of hearing it is next. “There simply couldn’t be a repeat of Crimea here,” says Vladislav Ponjatovski, head of a local trade union. Mr Ponjatovski, an ethnic Russian, helped launch a Narva autonomy referendum in 1993. Now he would never consider it. Today’s Estonia offers higher living standards and membership of NATO and the European Union. Nobody in Narva longs to be in Ivangorod, the Russian town over the river. The fear that the Kremlin may test NATO by stirring up trouble in the Baltics haunts the West. Britain’s defence secretary, Michael Fallon, says there is already a “real and present danger”. Russia has violated Baltic airspace and harassed ships in the Baltic Sea. Russian agents crossed the border and kidnapped an Estonian intelligence officer last autumn. The new security environment is “not just bad weather, it’s climate change,” says Lieutenant General Riho Terras, head of the Estonian Defence Forces.
Estonia’s prime minister was preparing to form a new government Monday, a day after his ruling Reform Party won parliamentary elections. Taavi Roivas’ center-right group, which includes the Social Democrats, lost seven seats in the vote and now has 45 lawmakers in the 101-seat Parliament, prompting negotiations with smaller parties to form a majority coalition. Roivas met the country’s head of state before discussions with other party leaders. At their meeting, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves suggested forming a broad coalition, saying the small nation of 1.3 million people “needs a responsible and capable government … (to) maintain Estonia’s security, governance and local government reforms.”
Estonians voted Sunday in an election marked by jitters over a militarily resurgent Russia and a popular pro-Kremlin party, with the security conscious centre-left coalition tipped for a return to power. Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year and its meddling in eastern Ukraine have galvanised the European Union, including this eurozone member of 1.3 million people, a quarter of whom are ethnic Russian. Military manoeuvres by Moscow on Estonia’s border days ahead of the vote further stoked deep concerns in Europe that the Kremlin could attempt to destabilise countries that were in its orbit during Soviet times. NATO is countering the moves by boosting defences on its eastern flank with a spearhead force of 5,000 troops and command centres in six formerly communist members of the Alliance, including one in Estonia.