Victims of Military abductions surfaced due to Writ of Amparo
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Unhackable or uncrackable computer systems are not equivalent to secured systems.

Comelec officials should study basics of computer systems.

In all computer security references, no mention of a completely secured system can be found. Computer professionals working on system security lives with the principle "...that no computer system can ever be completely secure"[1]. These are the basics that COMELEC should know.

Fortunately for COMELEC, the technical knowledge to have a secured system can be addressed. We have talented computer security experts in the country that can help address cracks and remote unauthorized access.

The most difficult part to eliminate and to detect is local deliberate manipulation of this internet voting system. While break-ins or cracks, as what COMELEC wants to test the current system, can be addressed by perimeter security, local manipulation, on the other hand, is on the "honest" attitude of whomever administers the elections.

As of now, a nationwide vote count manipulation is not possible due to the tedious manual nature of current voting and counting. But with computer systems in elections a single administrator can change results nationwide without a trace.

Can we trust the COMELEC or the current administration to be "honest" in using the internet voting machines? GMA's Administration with its credentials of having the likes of Garci, Esperon and other Generals is enough testament on how they will possibly use these voting systems. In the National Integrity Systems Country Study of the Philippines in 2006[2], Transparency International refers to the "Hello Garci" tape scandal as a demonstration of "conflict of interest and at worse vote-rigging occuring in an institution that is supposed to serve as the country's electoral watchdog."

The Philippines can not be compared to Sweden which also uses the Scytl's internet voting system. Sweden, in 2006 is one of the world's six least corrupt countries [3] while the Philippines is the most corrupt according to Political and Economic Risk Consultancy in 2007. The two countries are on the opposite end in corruption which will of course give different results on the elections.

Scytl's system will not eliminate the dirty nature of Philippine Elections. Moreover, it will be another tool at the hand of corrupt officials to legitimize results due to manipulation of votes in favor of certain candidates.

There are a lot of issues involve in voting machines. Bruce Schneier, a well-known computer security expert, even goes to the point of saying that "The current crop of electronic voting machines fail .." in giving mathematically accurate results and results that "every citizen is confident that it is correct" [4].

In the Philippines the elections has been a chance for the masses to pick the lesser evil either by manual voting or automated voting machines and hope that candidates do not pay themselves back to much.

Drafted for the Computer Professionals' Union

1. Linux Security HOW TO
2. Dr. Gabriella Quimson, National Integrity Systems, Transparency International Country Study Report Philippines 2006.
3. Transparency International Report
4. Schneier Blog

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