New Democrats remained tight-lipped Sunday about the cyber-attack that kept the country waiting for hours at Saturday’s leadership convention. Party brass refused to disclose the source of two Internet Protocol addresses that they say perpetrated an attack meant to disrupt its online voting system, as they tried to manage Thomas Mulcair’s first day as head of the federal NDP. The party is investigating the attack, in tandem with its voting system provider, Scytl, auditors Price Waterhouse Cooper and a number of “experts,” party president Rebecca Blaikie said on Sunday. “At this point, there is not a single point person,” Blaikie said of the investigation. “We’re going to investigate what (the attack) is, where it came from. . . As soon as we know that, we’ll be able to decide what to do next.” Blaikie said neither police nor Elections Canada have been contacted. The NDP identified the IP addresses, essentially identification tags assigned to web-wired devices, as perpetrators of a denial-of-service (DNS) attack. While the party insists the results were not compromised, some are questioning the integrity of the final, fourth-round ballot, which propelled Thomas Mulcair to victory after more than 12 hours of voting.
Barbara Simons, a former advisory board member on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and co-author of the forthcoming book, Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?, called on the NDP to conduct a public review of the fiasco. “They really should have an investigation by an independent group of computer security experts, and they should make the results of the investigation public,” Simons said on the phone from California. In a DNS attack, a “botnet,” a group of unwittingly co-opted, virus-controlled computers, floods a website to jam traffic. Simons said Internet users can be part of a “botnet” without even knowing it.
An estimated 1,500 members, of 4,600 present, cast online ballots onsite and more than 5,000 did so across the country. More than 55,000 voted ahead of time. After the second-round delay, the party blamed clogging on advance voters who had already cast their ballot, yet reentered the system in an attempt to make edits.