Re: A Diebold network connection Question

From: Jim March <jmarch_at_prodigy_dot_net>
Date: Wed Aug 17 2005 - 16:34:38 CDT

I suspect another question might be "what else could be going on BESIDES
the VPN connection?"

What I mean is, if a Diebold GEMS box is plugged into an internet
connection at all, no matter what firewalls are up, that really only
blocks access from the outside. What happens if somebody in Diebold,
the county elections office, the county IT dept. or some networking
contractor like SAIC or whatever puts software on the GEMS box that
*initiates* contact to the outside world?

It beats the hell out of the firewall, that's what. And if somebody
uses such a stunt to get access to the GEMS box, the MS-Access database
is spread wide open for unlimited rape.

California rules on Diebold's optical scan gear as certified say "no
networking period" and while that still doesn't make a Diebold setup
"secure", it's at least a start.


Richard C. Johnson wrote:

> The VPN access described here is certainly a connection via the
> internet. VPN (Virtual Private Network) involves sending encrypted
> communications over the network. Depending on how it is done, and
> what other security measures are taken, it can be quite
> secure. Another question, however, is just what privileges and
> authorizations the Diebold people have on the State site once they are
> logged in over the VPN connection.
> Nothing much wrong with VPN--the access itself just raises all kinds
> of other questions. Most corporations use VPN to allow their
> employees secure access over the Internet. Most corporations also
> employ a host of other controls and audits once a person has entered
> the corporate net through a VPN connection. What the person does once
> is unclear from this passage.
> Essentially, Diebold's use of the connection is the critical issue.
> What security does the state impose on Diebold employees? It is
> unlikely that the coupling of the state and Diebold could be overhead
> by someone who cracks the VPN encryption. Rather, the most
> interesting question is, what privileges are to be granted on the
> state system to Diebold employees?
> One would like to think that the state has more control over its
> security than to allow Diebold access without carefully applying
> limits. Or, perhaps, the Diebold janitor is just a "hellokitty"
> password away from online access to the state's voting databases. The
> pipe is reasonably sound (VPN), but it matters what happens at either end.
> Cheers!
> -- Dick
> */Kathy Dopp <>/* wrote:
> A Question from Scott in MS
> (this may also apply in UT)
> The following is a term of the Diebold contract with
> the state of Mississippi. It is taken verbatim. This
> looks like an internet connection between Diebold and
> our (Mississippi's) election equipment and software.
> Please give your feedback on this:
> Contractor [Diebold] and MSOS [Mississippi Secretary
> of State] understand and agree that the State of
> Mississippi's Enterprise Security Policy mandates that
> all remote access to and/or from the State network
> must be accomplished via a Virtual Private Network
> (VPN.) If the parties agree that remote access is
> required at any time during the life of this
> Agreement, Diebold and MSOS agree to
> implement/maintain a VPN for this connectivity. This
> required VPN must be IPSec-capable (ESP tunnel mode)
> and will terminate on a Cisco VPN-capable device (i.e.
> VPN concentrator, PIX firewall, etc.) on the State's
> premises. Diebold agrees that it must, at its own
> expense, implement/maintain a compatible
> hardware/software solution to terminate the specified
> VPN on Diebold's premises.
> The parties further understand and agree that the
> State protocol standard and architecture are based on
> industry-standard security protocols and manufacturer
> engaged at the time of contract execution. The State
> reserves the right to introduce a new protocol and
> architecture standard and require Diebold to comply
> with same, in the event the industry introduces a more
> secure, robust protocol to replace IPSec/ESP and/or
> there is a change in the manufacturer engaged.
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Received on Wed Aug 31 23:17:27 2005

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