Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Keith Driver joined Titania as CTO in February 2019 from his role as an Engineering Fellow and CTO Cyber at Raytheon UK . He has worked extensively with commercial, defense and government sector customers globally. As part of our ongoing series on election security, we asked Keith for his expert insights on election security and what new security challenges this election could bring.
Keith Driver, CTO, Titania:
"The use of technology in support of universal suffrage is an attractive prospect. The possible benefits of strong identity assertion, counting accuracy, quickly operating more complex systems such as STV, and voting from a location of voter choice rather than a polling station, where influence and corruption can take place are all strong positives. However, the technologies deployed, and their use in these configurations are not mature. Weaknesses such as the one uncovered in SwissPost's e-voting system is one such example. Yet, the threats come from several locations including inaccurate and vulnerable software running in the machines/applications, and/ or aggregation centers; the ability of determined actors to cause a strategic or wide-scale denial of service; identity theft and proxy voting arrangements; as well as reduced external and independent monitoring of the process. These variables present a whole new landscape to defend in the cybersecurity space. Remember, our democratic processes and therefore the trust in the outcome is the fundamental rock on which our societies are built. Therefore, if doubt can be thrown on the process, and there is little opportunity for examination and verification of the underlying technology, we are in a dangerous space.
We all know how paper systems work. Safeguards are present at each stage, and we understand how the result is verified if challenged. However, this is not the case with technology-based voting therefore robust, open-source technology and observable processes need to be at the core of operations. Plus, we must remember that the voting has to be available to the most vulnerable and least educated members of society. It is a difficult problem.
We are concerned about foreign influence in elections via social media and other global communications. As a society, we are certain that the global actors seek to influence our opinions, even if their goal is just to create doubt. With that logic, we can be sure that the more sophisticated actors will be looking to see how they can directly affect the voting process - not just influence those that do vote - by infiltrating the voting chain remotely."