Secure Voting software

Discussion in 'Python' started by PiedmontBiz, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. PiedmontBiz

    PiedmontBiz Guest

    Listening to National Public Radio while reading comp.lang.python. What a life!

    I just heard a piece on NPR about the security failures of an electronic voting
    system being developed. I know a voting system could be developed in python. I
    am working on a simulator myself to run via the web (a personal project only)

    Are there any features which would make python a viable alternative to develop
    a real voting system for use in the US? Why or why not?

    What things must I keep in mind when I design a python application to be
    secure?

    Since python is developed using C, can python be free from the buffer overrun
    problems which plague other C programs?

    allen
    PiedmontBiz, Jan 21, 2004
    #1
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  2. allen> Listening to National Public Radio while reading
    allen> comp.lang.python. What a life! I just heard a piece on NPR about
    allen> the security failures of an electronic voting system being
    allen> developed. I know a voting system could be developed in python. I
    allen> am working on a simulator myself to run via the web (a personal
    allen> project only)

    allen> Are there any features which would make python a viable
    allen> alternative to develop a real voting system for use in the US?
    allen> Why or why not?

    allen> What things must I keep in mind when I design a python
    allen> application to be secure?

    allen> Since python is developed using C, can python be free from the
    allen> buffer overrun problems which plague other C programs?

    Yes, to a great extent, because you need to find buffer overrun
    possibilities in the Python interpreter, but not in every Python
    application.

    As for voting projects, check out:

    http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/

    Python is the development language I believe. I haven't followed it in a
    couple months.

    Skip
    Skip Montanaro, Jan 22, 2004
    #2
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  3. PiedmontBiz

    Paul Rubin Guest

    (PiedmontBiz) writes:
    > What things must I keep in mind when I design a python application to be
    > secure?
    >
    > Since python is developed using C, can python be free from the
    > buffer overrun problems which plague other C programs?


    Buffer overruns are just one narrow type of security failure.
    Security is really a hard subject and even systems built by experts
    often have security holes. There are various books written on how to
    write secure software, and also some HOWTO's. For systems like voting
    machines, there are a lot of non-software issues you have to deal with too.

    The book "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson is a good place to start
    reading if you're interested in the subject.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 22, 2004
    #3
  4. PiedmontBiz

    Mark Jackson Guest

    Paul Rubin <http://> writes:
    > (PiedmontBiz) writes:
    > > What things must I keep in mind when I design a python application to be
    > > secure?
    > >
    > > Since python is developed using C, can python be free from the
    > > buffer overrun problems which plague other C programs?

    >
    > Buffer overruns are just one narrow type of security failure.
    > Security is really a hard subject and even systems built by experts
    > often have security holes. There are various books written on how to
    > write secure software, and also some HOWTO's. For systems like voting
    > machines, there are a lot of non-software issues you have to deal with too.
    >
    > The book "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson is a good place to start
    > reading if you're interested in the subject.


    Many of the issues have been discussed on comp.risks over the years,
    and the archives of same contain some useful pointers to in-depth
    analyses. A searchable archive is found at http://www.risks.org.

    --
    Mark Jackson - http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~mjackson
    No *good* model ever accounted for *all* the facts, since
    some data was bound to be misleading if not plain wrong.
    - James D. Watson
    Mark Jackson, Jan 22, 2004
    #4
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    At 2004-01-22T01:35:01Z, Paul Rubin <http://> writes:

    > The book "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson is a good place to start
    > reading if you're interested in the subject.


    I just finished "Practical Cryptography" by Niels Ferguson and Bruce
    Schneier. It was almost enough to make me not want to bother trying. :-/
    - --
    Kirk Strauser
    The Strauser Group
    Open. Solutions. Simple.
    http://www.strausergroup.com/
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    Kirk Strauser, Jan 22, 2004
    #5
  6. PiedmontBiz

    Ben Finney Guest

    On Thu, 22 Jan 2004 04:35:07 GMT, Kirk Strauser wrote:
    > At 2004-01-22T01:35:01Z, Paul Rubin <http://> writes:
    >> The book "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson is a good place to start
    >> reading if you're interested in the subject.

    >
    > I just finished "Practical Cryptography" by Niels Ferguson and Bruce
    > Schneier. It was almost enough to make me not want to bother trying.
    > :-/


    Security is much more than just cryptography. Program reliability,
    protection from bad input, protection from other misbehaving programs;
    mitigation of *any* kind of risk or threat is the realm of security.

    --
    \ "Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a |
    `\ dotted line. He caught every other fish." -- Steven Wright |
    _o__) |
    Ben Finney <http://bignose.squidly.org/>
    Ben Finney, Jan 22, 2004
    #6
  7. PiedmontBiz

    PiedmontBiz Guest


    >At 2004-01-22T01:35:01Z, Paul Rubin <http://> writes:
    >
    >> The book "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson is a good place to start
    >> reading if you're interested in the subject.

    >
    >I just finished "Practical Cryptography" by Niels Ferguson and Bruce
    >Schneier. It was almost enough to make me not want to bother trying. :-/
    >=2D --=20
    >Kirk Strauser
    >The Strauser Group
    >Open. Solutions. Simple.
    >http://www.strausergroup.com/



    I checked out the site: http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/

    This is a huge and important project. I suppose the programming language is
    really not that important. The issue is trustworthy system development
    (applications, operating systems, drivers, libraries, hardware, etc.), and
    developing ways to validate software.

    A completely different programming paradigm will need to be developed.

    allen
    PiedmontBiz, Jan 22, 2004
    #7
  8. PiedmontBiz

    Paul Rubin Guest

    (PiedmontBiz) writes:
    > I checked out the site: http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/
    >
    > This is a huge and important project. I suppose the programming
    > language is really not that important. The issue is trustworthy
    > system development (applications, operating systems, drivers,
    > libraries, hardware, etc.), and developing ways to validate
    > software.


    There's bigger problems than any software can solve. See
    http://www.blackboxvoting.com a view of some of them.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 22, 2004
    #8
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    At 2004-01-22T04:36:55Z, Ben Finney <> writes:

    > Security is much more than just cryptography.


    I wasn't implying otherwise. However, being exposed to the level of
    engineering required to get that one small part of the system right is
    humbling.
    - --
    Kirk Strauser
    The Strauser Group
    Open. Solutions. Simple.
    http://www.strausergroup.com/
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    Kirk Strauser, Jan 22, 2004
    #9
  10. Buffer overruns (was: Secure Voting software)

    In article <>,
    Paul Rubin <http://> wrote:
    .
    .
    .
    >Buffer overruns are just one narrow type of security failure.

    .
    .
    .
    Yes and no. Yes, a security audit needs to consider at least hundreds
    of distinct categories of technical hazards, and buffer overruns are
    just one of these, and arguably not the riskiest. HOWEVER, we make up
    for that with the frequency with which we do them; that is, although
    all the analysis buffer overruns require was available at least twenty
    years ago, it remains, in my experience, much the most frequent
    identifiable security-pertinent fault our industry writes in, day
    after day. We sure look dumb.

    'Course, that's certainly not the fault of Python folk.
    --

    Cameron Laird <>
    Business: http://www.Phaseit.net
    Cameron Laird, Jan 22, 2004
    #10
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