The Australian Parliament said on Friday that hackers had tried to break into its computer network, which includes lawmakers’ email archives, but that so far there were no indications that data had been stolen. “Following a security incident on the parliamentary computing network, a number of measures have been implemented to protect the network and its users,” Parliament’s presiding officers, Tony Smith and Scott Ryan, said in a joint statement. “All users have been required to change their passwords. This has occurred overnight and this morning.” “There is no evidence that any data has been accessed or taken at this time, however this will remain subject to ongoing investigation,” the statement read. Australian news outlets reported that security agencies were investigating the possibility that a foreign government was behind the attack, possibly China’s.Full Article: Australian Parliament Reports Cyberattack on Its Computer Network - The New York Times.
Articles about voting issues in the Commonwealth of Australia.
In 2016, an Instagram account called @army_of_jesus_ posted an image of the son of God, imploring viewers to “like if you believe” or “keep scrolling if you don’t”. It received almost 88,000 likes. The account, as revealed later by security researchers, was run by Russian internet trolls. While much attention has been paid to attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election on Facebook and Twitter, the role of the image-based social media platform has been largely overlooked. In fact, according to two recent reports, Instagram became the platform of choice for Russia’s infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA).Full Article: Instagram spreads political misinformation and Australian elections are vulnerable - Science News - ABC News.
Australia’s electoral systems will be actively monitored around the clock by a new security operations centre during the upcoming federal election. The Australian Electoral Commission has put out the call for vendors capable of providing “short-term, event based security monitoring” of its internal systems in a bid to protect against unauthorised interference. The centre would be used to detect “common or generic system or network compromises or compromise attempts against the AEC’ systems” in the lead up to, during and following the election. It will also spot “defined specific compromise attempts against electoral systems”, according to a brief posted on the digital marketplace late last month.Full Article: Aussie electoral systems get 24x7 monitoring for 2019 election - Strategy - Security - iTnews.
Australia: Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn’t like e-voting – Paper’s safer, says parliamentary committee | The Register
An Australian parliamentary committee has nixed the idea of internet voting for federal elections Down Under, for now. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has delivered its report into the 2013 federal election, and in it, the body decided that there are plenty of ways technology can help elections – but ditching the country’s pencil-and-paper ballots isn’t one of them. The committee said technology “is not sufficiently mature for an election to be conducted through a full scale electronic voting process.” “Despite public enthusiasm for electronic voting, there are a number of serious problems with regard to electronic voting – particularly in relation to cost, security and verification of results”, the committee reported.Full Article: Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn't like e-voting • The Register.
Australia: Coalition pushes for voter identification laws and launches attack on GetUp | The Guardian
Coalition MPs and senators have called for voter identification laws but Labor has warned such a push would amount to “a pathway to voter suppression”. The recommendation is contained in joint standing committee on electoral matters report on the 2016 election, which also calls for a higher bar to register a minor party and consideration of higher penalties for non-voting and tax deductibility of political donations. The Liberal chair, James McGrath, also used his foreword to the report to launch a stinging attack on GetUp, accusing it of providing “misleading information”. He said this was a “potential contempt of the parliament”, a claim rejected on Wednesday by the Speaker of the House. The Coalition-controlled committee recommended voters be made to verify their identity or their address at polling places by producing documents such as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or utilities bill.Full Article: Coalition pushes for voter identification laws and launches attack on GetUp | Australia news | The Guardian.
Australia: NSW government finally released ‘net vote system review, says everything’s just fine Including, wait for it, ‘security through obscurity’. No, really | The Register
Australia’s New South Wales Electoral Commission has given its electronic voting system a clean bill of health, dismissing hacking fears as “theoretical,” and accepting a PWC report saying the system to date was protected by “security through obscurity”. Reviews of election processes are routine, and in 2016, the NSW Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters kicked off the Wilkins report. It was completed in May of this year, but was only recently made public (PDF). NSW’s “iVote” system was used by nearly 300,000 citizens in the 2015 election, a week after Melbourne University crypto-boffins Dr Vanessa Teague and Dr Chris Culnane demonstrated a FREAK-bug-like “theoretical attack”.Full Article: NSW government finally released 'net vote system review, says everything's just fine • The Register.
The Labor government in the Australian state of Victoria won an unexpectedly large majority in an election that analysts say is a warning to the country’s ruling conservative government ahead of national polls due in six months. Victoria is Australia’s second most populous state, and the poll is seen as a barometer of voter sentiment towards the nation’s conservative Liberal and National government. The governing coalition has been a minority government since October when they lost their one-seat majority after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, ousted by conservatives in a party-room coup, resigned.Full Article: Landslide state election loss rattles Australia's minority government | Reuters.
Australia: Government rules out dual election option, says poll will be ‘next year’ | Sydney Morning Herald
The Morrison government has ruled out a “dual election” scenario where Australian voters would go to two federal elections next year, after talks about the option emerged in the media. Special Minister of State Alex Hawke dismissed the idea and insisted on the standard timetable for an election next year. “The government has no plans for a dual election. The election is due next year, as required,” Mr Hawke tweeted. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office also rejected the option, saying “the government has no plans for a dual election” and also stipulating the election would be next year, as Mr Morrison continues a bus tour in regional Queensland to listen to voters.Full Article: Government rules out dual election option, says poll will be 'next year'.
Australia’s conservative government has lost its parliamentary majority after an independent candidate was on Monday confirmed the winner in a critical by-election. Voters in the wealthy seaside constituency of Wentworth, in Sydney’s east, went to the polls on Oct 20 to chose a replacement for former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who quit politics in August after he was ousted by his own party. Widespread voter anger at Turnbull’s demise saw the ruling Liberal party hemorrhage votes, though the race narrowed to come down to a several thousand postal votes.Full Article: Minority Australian government confirmed as critical by-election result announced | Reuters.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) wants to overhaul its election systems, but it doesn’t exactly know how such overhaul will look, or what it will comprise of. The AEC published a request for information (RFI) this week, seeking specifically “innovative” ideas and approaches to designing and delivering an Election Systems Modernisation Program, asking the market for guidance on everything from procurement constraints to the end result. The core software platforms currently in place at the AEC have been in use for almost 30 years, the RFI revealed, with the AEC’s systems environment consisting of approximately 93 systems and supporting sub-systems. The 90-plus systems deliver services to citizens and political parties, support the work of the AEC, and provide integration and interface services, the AEC explained.Full Article: Electoral Commission seeks advice on overhauling 30-year-old systems | ZDNet.
The state government has faced a massive onslaught of computer network attacks since the last election, with tens of millions of attempted intrusions and successful hacks on the Premier’s department, Main Roads, the finance and local government departments. In answers to parliamentary questions asked by opposition frontbencher Zak Kirkup, the government also revealed it had been subject to attacks on its information systems by “nation-state foreign actors”. The Department of Finance, which also provides information security for the Department of Treasury, bore the brunt of the attacks, recording 15.5 million intrusion attempts on its networks and website. Of these, 11 attacks were successful, but Treasurer Ben Wyatt said there had been “no indication that any Cabinet or customer-related material was compromised”.Full Article: State government hacked in massive computer network attacks.
Voting in Australia has long followed the same formula – use pencils to mark on a piece of paper behind a cardboard booth, then folding said paper and slotting it into a box. For years, having humans manually count paper ballots have created an electoral system that is deemed highly secure and tamper-resistant. Compulsory voting in the country has helped secure against suppression tactics that have affected elections in the US and the UK. In the digital age, it is tempting to move voting online; the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) tried dabbling in e-voting in 2013. However, experts warned that e-voting brings more harm than good. The trouble of electronic voting has been in the spotlight for the past few years at DefCon, the world’s largest hacker conference taking place annually in the US, where hackers have been showcasing vulnerabilities to the US election equipment, databases, and infrastructure. In fact, this year an 11-year-old managed to hack into replica websites to manipulate vote tallies in just 10 minutes.Full Article: E-voting systems are still too vulnerable to be feasible for Australia.
Australia: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting | IDM Magazine
The civic experience of interacting with analogue voting interfaces is as Australian as the democracy sausage. Voters are confronted with tiny pencils, plus physical security measures that involve huddling in a cardboard booth and origami-scale folding. The use of paper ballots – and human counting of those ballots – creates one of the most secure electoral systems imaginable. And the Australian tradition provides another sometimes under-recognised component of electoral security: compulsory voting. This practice secures against the voter suppression tactics used to undermine elections in the United States. In the digital era, smartphones are so prevalent that it might seem tempting to move to voting online. In 2013 the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) explored internet voting. But cyber security experts say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The problems the US has had with electronic voting provide a perfect illustration of what can go wrong. Every year hackers and cyber security experts from across the globe converge “In Real Life” (IRL) on Las Vegas to attend one of the world’s largest and longest-running annual hacker conventions: DefCon.Full Article: If it ain't broke, don't fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting | IDM Magazine.
Australia: Intelligence officials plan to repel fake news in Australian federal election | Financial Review
Australian intelligence and government officials are working on the best means to repel attacks from foreign actors attempting to cause unrest and interfere with the 2019 federal election via the dissemination of fake news of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. A new wave of election interference came into the spotlight following the shock election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016. Russia-linked accounts were discovered to have been circulating false stories over Facebook, Twitter and Google before the election in an attempt to whip up social and political unrest with outlandish claims which many Americans believed.Full Article: Intelligence officials plan to repel fake news in Australian federal election | afr.com.
Facebook’s Australia boss Will Easton says the social media giant is working with local authorities to ensure next year’s federal election is not influenced by fake accounts and bad actors manipulating users on the social media platform, according to an interview with Fairfax Media. Easton said its policy team is working with the government on election integrity in a effort to prevent an Australian version of the Cambridge Analytica scandal where user data was harvested and then used by political strategists to manipulate and influence users to vote for Donald Trump in the US election. “Our policy team are in constant connection with the government around a number of different areas and election integrity is clearly a part of that. We’re very proactively talking to the election authorities in Australia about potential elections coming up,” he told the Fairfax Media.Full Article: Facebook working with Australian authorities to improve election integrity - AdNews.
Australia: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting | The Conversation
The civic experience of interacting with analogue voting interfaces is as Australian as the democracy sausage. Voters are confronted with tiny pencils, plus physical security measures that involve huddling in a cardboard booth and origami-scale folding. The use of paper ballots – and human counting of those ballots – creates one of the most secure electoral systems imaginable. And the Australian tradition provides another sometimes under-recognised component of electoral security: compulsory voting. This practice secures against the voter suppression tactics used to undermine elections in the United States. In the digital era, smartphones are so prevalent that it might seem tempting to move to voting online. In 2013 the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) explored internet voting. But cyber security experts say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.Full Article: If it ain't broke, don't fix it: Australia should stay away from electronic voting.
The shadow assistant minister for cyber security, Gai Brodtmann, has called for the government to classify Australia’s election systems as a “critical infrastructure sector” under the Trusted Information Sharing Network in order to “overlay the appropriate scrutiny and assurance mechanisms to assure the Australian people of the cyber resilience of their democracy”. The Labor MP, who earlier this month announced she would not contest the next election, cited concerns over alleged attempts to influence the US and French elections as well as the denial of service attacks on the 2016 Census. The TISN is an initiative to boost information sharing and collaboration between critical infrastructure operators.Full Article: MP warns of cyber threat to Australian elections - Computerworld.
A staggering 60,000 out of 234,0000 active accounts at a range of WA government agencies were potentially at risk of a dictionary attack due to their weak passwords, a review by the state’s auditor general has found. The state’s auditor general today upheld a venerable WA government information security tradition, slamming agencies for poor practices when it came to passwords and other protective measures. For the report, the WA Office of the Auditor General obtained encrypted password data from 23 Active Directory environments across 17 agencies. Using a selection of password dictionaries it found that tens of thousands of users had chosen weak passwords including “Password123” (1464 accounts), “password1” (813), “password” (184), “password2” (142) and “Password01” (118). “‘After repeatedly raising password risks with agencies, it is unacceptable that people are still using Password123 and abcd1234 to access critical agency systems and information,” said Western Australia’s auditor general, Caroline Spencer.Full Article: Want to hack the WA government? Try ‘Password123’ - Computerworld.
Two newly revealed flaws in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) electronic voting systems could have allowed voters to be linked to their votes, breaking the core democratic concept of the secret ballot. The vulnerabilities were disclosed in a detailed technical write-up on Monday by independent security researcher T Wilson-Brown, who originally discovered and confirmed the flaws in early January. Elections ACT had agreed in March to public disclosure on April 9, but on April 10 it pulled out. Four months later, Wilson-Brown has published them, to allow time for changes to be made before the next ACT election in 2020. The first vulnerability stems from Elections ACT publishing online the individual, and their preference allocations under the ACT’s preferential voting system, for later analysis.Full Article: Flaws in ACT election systems could reveal voters' votes | ZDNet.
A March election would usually be a distant memory by August. But not so in Tasmania, where anger over the 2018 campaign remains white-hot. A group of community activists will tap into that sentiment on Wednesday, launching a novel concept in a state with the weakest political donations laws in the country – fed up over a lack of political transparency, the group will hold its own inquiry into the 2018 state election.Full Article: Election rejection: Tasmanian activists launch inquiry into 2018 result | Australia news | The Guardian.