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Political Party's Leadership Election Hit By DDoS Attack 100

New submitter lyran74 writes "Saturday's electronic leadership vote for Canada's New Democratic Party was plagued by delays caused by a botnet DDoS attack, coming from over 10,000 machines. Details are still scarce, but Scytl, who provided electronic voting services, will have to build more robust systems in the future in anticipation of such attacks. Party and company officials say an audit proved the systems and integrity of the vote were not compromised."
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Political Party's Leadership Election Hit By DDoS Attack

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  • Scumbags (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Whoever did this, for any reasons whatsoever, is a total douche by destroying the democratic process.

    • No (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sudonymous ( 2585501 )

      Whoever did this is a hero, for demonstrating that the electronic voting process was broken, and in particular for doing a proof of concept attack on a "party leadership" election which doesn't really matter very much.

      • I totally agree.

        Electronic voting has been proven time and time again to be seriously flawed, universally not just in Canada.
      • by Fancia ( 710007 )
        In Canada, the Prime Minister isn't directly elected, but is the position given to the leader of the party with the most seats in Parliament. So far from not mattering, Canadian party leadership elections determine who may be the prime minister.
      • Wow, I like the way my comment was quickly up-modded to +4 Interesting and has been dropping ever since.

        For what it's worth, I don't really think the guy is a "hero" (quite). I do disagree with OP's comment, and I thought it'd be interesting (yes, I was aiming for interesting) to postulate a radically opposed viewpoint and see how well it could be supported or refuted.

    • Interestingly, my first thought was to wonder whether this was done on behalf of someone running in the elections, or by an outsider trying to make a point...
      Remember that not only is the Conservative party the one involved in the Robocall scandal (that did a similar thing to this in the last elections using the phone system and the electorate instead of just using the internet and a leadership election), but it's also the party that is using its possibly illegal majority to stonewall all legislation that i

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        One good way to win elections is to influence the oppositions leadership convention to get an unlikeable leader voted in. Fairly easy now a days with many leadership conventions open to the masses (just need to sign up ) and even easier with electronic voting.

      • by Curtman ( 556920 ) *
        I highly doubt the Reformacons are behind this in any official capacity. What could it possibly achieve through a DDoS? They extended the deadline several times to allow the ballots to be cast for each of the 4 rounds of voting. No real harm done other than causing a conflict with Hockey Night in Canada in the 4th round of voting.

        If the real issue is that Brian Topp supporters are more likely to be hockey fans than Thomas Mulcair supporters, then lets get to the meat and potatoes of it.
  • Because we all know if you disagree about a political position, it must because that side is doing something evil to want that position, so you must attack them to stop their evil.
  • What were they thinking when they changed their name to the "New" Democratic Party? It's not the sort of name that stands the test of time, is it? 50 years from now will they still be "new"?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      New Kids on the Block seem to think so.

    • by Jose ( 15075 )

      hrm, well they changed their name (in 1961) to the "New Democratic Party" from the "New Party"..they seem to like the "New" name.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        The "New Party" name was an interim name they used from 1958 to 1961. The Canadian Labour Congres and Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (which, on a provincial level, formed the first socialist government in North America) merged in 1958, and used the "New Party" name until they switched to their final name, the "New Democratic Party", although I don't know why.

    • Re:On a side note (Score:4, Informative)

      by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:28PM (#39489373) Homepage Journal

      Party names mean very little. When last were the "Republicans" major proponents of a republic?

      Hearing NDP all of my life, the "new" part of the name has no literal meaning, it's all just mashed in with the rest and they are simply N-D-P. They are what they are.

      • And the Federalists were never truly federalists (they wanted all power centralized). And Jefferson's Democrats were never really democratic (they wanted rule of law by the Constitution, especially the 10th, not simple majority). U.S. party names have never had connection to the true goals of the party.

        Nor any other country (Germany's National Socialists were dictatorial). Though the UKIP seems clear in their goals (independence party wants independence).

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      This is the first time they've managed to get anywhere politically. Previously they were just dividing the left wing and handing power to conservatives through several elections, or they were 3rd and 4th rate fiddles to the liberals, the conservatives, and the bloc quebecois (the french separatists).

      They've been trying (and until this past election failing) to present themselves as the 'new left' to replace the liberals. Whether this new found success will last past one election is anyones guess.

      • Re:On a side note (Score:5, Informative)

        by Formalin ( 1945560 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:21PM (#39491157)

        Even though they've always been third or fourth place federally, they've still managed to get some things adopted that they implemented in provincial government - healthcare, for example.

        They took 1930's poor dirt-farmer Saskatchewan and made it.. well, paved and electrified, at least, in short order.

        Funny thing is, cons always run their mouths about NDP being a fiscal disaster if they ever got power, but historically, in provincial governments they've always been the most fiscally sound, rarely running deficits (our 'prudent' cons actually have the worst record). I guess it's that old line about repeating something often enough, sheep will believe it.

    • Re:On a side note (Score:5, Informative)

      by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:43PM (#39489541)

      They didn't change it. They never were the "democratic" party (There've been two of those, both in BC, both short lived and unsuccessful).

      In 1958, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (a socialist political party formed in the 1930s) and the Canadian Labour Congress (a union federation) jointly form the National Committee for the New Party to form a new social-democratic political party. The organizations surrounding the committee took up the "New Party" bit and when the party was actually founded in 1961, they decided to just keep the "New" bit as it was already well recognized.

    • Newfoundland was found quite a long time ago. Go ask them why they don't change the name of their province.

  • by kalislashdot ( 229144 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:21PM (#39489261) Homepage

    Ya, because audits uncover everything and make me feel all warm and fuzzy!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:23PM (#39489305)

    ... is that the ruling conservative party is already under investigation for illegal election tampering []. It would seem to me that the current Canadian government is one of the most corrupt in the western hemisphere at the moment.

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Mod parent informative.

    • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:20PM (#39489927)

      It would seem to me that the current Canadian government is one of the most corrupt in the western hemisphere at the moment.

      As a proud Canadian, normally I would be outraged by a comment like that. Unfortunately, with what the Conservative party has done (manipulating the previous election) and what Harper has been doing (the list is so damn long...), I find myself entirely unable to argue against that claim... It's disgusting that I can't argue against it...

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        It would seem to me that the current Canadian government is one of the most corrupt in the western hemisphere at the moment.

        As a proud Canadian, normally I would be outraged by a comment like that. Unfortunately, with what the Conservative party has done (manipulating the previous election) and what Harper has been doing (the list is so damn long...), I find myself entirely unable to argue against that claim... It's disgusting that I can't argue against it...

        I think the closest you can come would be a compa

        • the Russian election to see how it was corrupted, they were likely taking notes... :(

          IMHO I think we need a new Federal election in Canada, monitored by outside observers. It might not make any difference to who ends up in charge but perhaps we could have a legitimate government in power instead of our current one.

      • The Conservatives have always been fascists, now they are willing to show their spots. There is nothing they won't do to cling to power. Do I see political refugee Canadians on the horizon?
      • Welcome to our world!

        An American

    • by Jazari ( 2006634 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:21PM (#39489941)
      Talk about flamebait. So far the investigation points to one young guy, and not even the opposition is accusing any government/party officials of any wrongdoing.

      Political discourse would be a lot more civil if people didn't throw around baseless accusations.
      • Indeed. As a reference for how it should really be done, look back to the Conservative's last election campaign. Instead of baseless accusations, they used innuendo, baseless questioning, and true accusations with baseless conclusions. All legal, all political.

        The opposition (NDP) got where they are today by NOT doing those things -- Canadians got fed up with all the mud slinging and decided that no matter how inept the other guy might be, at least he was less corrupt (in morality, if not in political d

      • Where I come from, that's called being thrown under a bus.

        The idea that "one young guy" has the ability to:
        - set up robocalls in multiple ridings (voting districts) to mislead Liberal or at least non-Conservative voters to nonexistent voting stations
        - making live harassing calls at odd hours that claim to be from Liberal supporters
        - access to results of calls to determine voting intentions, to target non-Con voters
        - authorize payments to Racknine to do all the robocalls, and direct them to set up a burn num

      • So you actually believe the Conservative's argument that is was all the doing of a 23 year old intern who somehow got a hold of the secure voters database, and then orchestrated on a national level hundreds of thousands of robo-calls through 3rd party services.

        That kid is talented.

        When he gets out of jail someone should hire him, talk about resourceful!

    • +Informative.

      Don't know much about Canada and their government but I'm sure that if you look a little more south you would be shocked about corruption around there.
      Electronic voting? That's like pissing the only one thing that intends to make the system democratic.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        Canada does not use electronic voting on a federal level, and has no plans to move to such. Federal voting is controlled by Elections Canada, which has an extremely efficient paper-ballot based system with human counters that somehow manages to produces election results in a fraction the time of the US. Provincial-level and municipal-level voting is controlled by respective provinces (in the case of municipalities, they often can control their own voting subject to provincial regulations), and they're free

        • gladiator combat would help make up for cutting into hockey night in canada
        • Thanks to clarify that, I obviously missed something important. But as you added information I'll do it to.

          In my country elections for the leader of a political party are regulated, those elections are known as " Internal elections" (Duh) and take place depending if elections are for Province or Nation. It's like this partys are subdivided in... let's say two partys, which their aim in politics it's the same (they are both socialist for example) but differ in some aspects. This is what for this elections ar

    • Convictions please? no? Free country, right to due process and innocent until proven guilty.

      Take your FUD away until someone gets convicted.

    • by mrmeval ( 662166 )

      Since it's anonymous it could one of the following. I'm not being facetious it is a fact of any conspiracy without hard evidence.
      1) Your bestest fan so you can appear righteous in the face of great travails.
      2) Your bestest enemy (all of them)
      3) Some random asshole
      4) Someone targeting it because they hate electronic voting
      5) Someone targeting it because they love secure electronic voting


      It purely sucks and Occam's razor is pretty dull in this context.

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:24PM (#39489309) Homepage Journal

    Then the integrity of the election is affected even if the integrity of the ballot box is not.

    It's like if protesters blocking the streets make some voters "give up" on voting before they arrive at the polls. The ballot box's integrity is intact, but the election loses integrity.

    We can only hope that the loss of integrity was spread around evenly so the winners and vote-percentages of the losers are the same as they would have been. We can only hope, we can never know for certain.

  • Start the vote a day or two earlier to offset the delays caused by possible attacks, it's not like voting requires realtime access.

    • Re:Make it longer (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:48PM (#39489587)

      Uh... it does in this case.

      They started with I think 6 candidates. A couple dropped out in the first round, some more in the second until it was just two candidates.

      Even though everyone knew well in advance who 3 of the candidates were going to be, and you could reasonably guess the top 2, the process is an elimination rounds system until one person got a majority (of party voters).

      Basically every couple of hours was another round of voting, and the idea was to engage all the NDP membership even if they didn't want to fly to a convention. Until you actually know who's running, especially in each round, you can't vote effectively in advance. Some people did, not being NDP I'm not sure exactly how that process worked, but the idea was to see how it worked with people voting real time.

      Also, it didn't matter if it was gummed up, because the NDP have no political power (the conservatives have a majority), and they won't have to run in an election for at least 3 years so there's there's time to find a better leader if they don't like the one chosen or, lets face it, 3 years is a long time, they may have to do this again several times for any number of reasons.

      • Re:Make it longer (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @05:01PM (#39489741) Homepage

        "Until you actually know who's running, especially in each round, you can't vote effectively in advance. Some people did, not being NDP I'm not sure exactly how that process worked, but the idea was to see how it worked with people voting real time."

        Advance voting was done via preferential ballot. You rank everyone in order of preference. If your first place candidate gets eliminated, your vote shifts to the next person still in the running.

        It turns out that 85% of the votes cast were advanced ballots, so the people logging in to vote round round by round or who voted in person at the convention had a very limited ability to change the outcome.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:28PM (#39489371)

    All this while the august house of Parliament debates in committee if nasty YouTube video is a threat to the democracy.

    Money is okay, but please don't annonymously make threats to release the truth, it upsets the process.

    The procedure and House affairs committee is looking into threats posted on Youtube where a group called Anonymous promised to release personal information about Toews and his family if he didn't scrap Bill C-30, known as the lawful access or online surveillance bill.

  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:39PM (#39489481) Homepage Journal

    Believe it or not, despite this being a big political scandal, there is an even bigger one unfolding in Canada. This other one could make Watergate look minor. Actual Watergate criminals have expressed shock at how big RoboCon could be.

    Some group conspired during the last Canadian general election to place (hundreds of?) thousands of misleading and/or harrassing phone calls to members of the Liberals and NDP predominantly, to suppress their votes. The Conservative Party was the benefactor of this plot, obtaining a majority government in our Parliament, giving the Prime Minister nearly unchecked power for 5 years. It's been calculated by a professor and independent researcher, LaRue, from Quebec [] (now living Stateside), that the Robocalls may have affected the outcome in as many as 18 ridings (12 gave the Conservatives a majority).

    I've spoken with LaRue, and I trust his findings. His other unreleased allegations are also huge. I'm not exaggerating. I think he's ahead of the RCMP and Elections Canada in their own respective investigations.

    • by Jazari ( 2006634 )
      Elections Canada has so far identified only one "riding" (district) where many robo-calls were placed, and this riding was won decisively by the Liberals. So far, it is estimated by independent media that exactly -zero- ridings were swung either way. But don't let the facts get in the way of your opinions.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The issue isn't about if this led one party to win over an other, it's an issue that it could have. You can go to jail for attempted murder. You failed to kill your target, but you will go to jail. Just the same, that the robocall scheme worked or not is irrelevant, in the riding were this was shown to be a big problem, new elections should be called. Parallel to this, the people responsible have to face very hard consequences, and I don't believe that this was a lone Conservative worker who threw himself u

        • by saskboy ( 600063 )

          You are completely right. It's unlikely that Sona had much, if anything, to do with Poutine's portion of the plot in Guelph. He apparently didn't have the technical skills to make a robocall even.

      • That may be the case, but it's also not the point. If anyone was denied the ability to vote by someone acting maliciously, that's a big deal regardless of the outcome. All the more so if it was a coordinated effort by a group of people.
      • by msobkow ( 48369 )

        What "independent media"?

        There's no shortage of news about the 30-odd ridings affected from the MAINSTREAM media of ALL stripes, including some rather die-hard Conservative supporting papers.

      • by saskboy ( 600063 )

        If you wait for Elections Canada to give you news, you're going to be waiting a lonnng time. The reason we all know about it now is because the Ottawa Citizen broke the story after obtaining EC documents through the Freedom of Information Act. It's been widely reported and known that these calls affected close to 100 ridings []. Just because there's an investigation, doesn't mean we have to play dumb until it's finished.

        Independent media has said more than 0 ridings were swung, but the fact remains that the cr

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      While the robocalling scandal is indeed a big issue, I don't think that a Miami DJ is the best source of credible information on the topic.

      • by saskboy ( 600063 )

        Wow. What an ignorant, close minded, book-by-the-cover thing to say.

        So, if someone understands hip-hop, they can't comprehend research, journalism, computer databases, cryptanalysis, or politics?

        I do have to confess to at first not checking him out very closely a month ago when I saw his web address, but when he predicted the Danforth byelection to fractions of a percent, it's pretty clear he knows what he's talking about (and you're being a snob).

  • FTA:

    About 11,000 NDP members were voting live, as opposed to advance voting.

    And the DDOS attack was from "over 10,000 machines". Hmmm.

  • This episode should serve as a reminder/proof that we should stick to good old fashioned paper based voting for as long as we can. Besides the fact that it's easier to run attacks on e-voting, there is also the nagging doubt that will always linger about the results when the count is close (ie: can you really be sure the algorithms weren't tampered with?)
  • What's the point of saying "Political Party" in the topic as if it was novel for a political pary's website to be under attack, when what's unique here is which one?
  • A sweatervested mastermind sits cackling in a corner somewhere.

  • (A) Anybody who thinks an electronic voting system is viable and secure today is obviously an idiot.

    (B) The people running for election obviously think electronic voting is a good thing.

    (C) = (A) AND (B): Therefore, only idiots are running for office.

    "There are two parties: "The Stupid Party and the Evil Party. Once in a while they get together and do something that is Stupid AND Evil. This is called 'bipartisanship'." -- Thomas E. Woods

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain