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Security gaps: Government reviews new requirements for election software

Friday, September 15th, 2017 | Gadgets

The Federal Government is planning a stricter control of the electoral software used in Germany. It is to be examined whether the Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI) has to certify the software products used. This can be inferred from the reply given by the German Ministry of the Interior to a written question by the Green parliamentarian Konstantin von Notz, which is available at Golem.de.

Last week it became known that a software used in Germany for the rapid transmission of the election results has numerous security gaps. This was demonstrated by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) in an elaborate analysis (PDF). For example, with the access data to the FTP servers, tampered versions of the program could have been distributed because no effective authentication of the software was provided during the installation.
Manipulation of the final result excluded
According to the answer, the manufacturer of PC PC software is still working to implement BSI recommendations to improve the security level. In addition, the company has therefore agreed to examine the analysis presented by the CCC and, if necessary, to derive appropriate action. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, there were two other security updates last Wednesday; it is unclear whether the weak points are completely repaired.

The Federal Government does not rule out possible changes to the law regarding the use of such software. This needs to be discussed in the coming legislature. A manipulation of the final election result was in any case not possible through manipulated software, it goes on. "The final election result is based on the electoral passages of the individual electoral bodies, which are in writing, which means that this manipulation of IT does not distort this final election result," the government writes.
However, the steps announced in the reply are not sufficient for the opposition. "Obviously, the Federal Government is lingering around because the problems are still not resolved, so now everything needs to be done to ensure an error-free electoral process and the integrity of the software," said Notz.
Despite the debate on the security gaps, BSI CEO Arne Schönbohm asked this week to be able to vote electronically in the future. "If we take the issue of digitization seriously, we can not hide individual areas," said Schönbohm, adding, "The electronic election should be a topic in the next legislature."

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