Quantum Crytography to be used for Swiss elections

Victor Duchovni Victor.Duchovni at MorganStanley.com
Sat Oct 13 03:20:48 EDT 2007

On Fri, Oct 12, 2007 at 11:04:15AM -0400, Leichter, Jerry wrote:

> No comment from me on the appropriateness.  From Computerworld.

Why so shy? What threat model could have justified this approach?

> "We would like to provide optimal security conditions for the work of
> counting the ballots," said Robert Hensler, the Geneva State Chancellor,
> in a statement issued today. "In this context, the value added by
> quantum cryptography concerns not so much protection from outside
> attempts to interfere as the ability to verify that the data have not
> been corrupted in transit between entry and storage."

So they are assuring the integrity of stored data by doing ephemeral
communications (not stored data) integrity! Neither the integrity of
the data entry, nor the integrity of the data leaving the QC network
and stored on the disk are actually assured. I am really impressed.
Looks like a finely staged circus act.

> The use of quantum cryptography in the voting process will showcase
> technology developed in Switzerland. The firm id Quantique, based in
> Carouge, grew out of research done at the University of Geneva by
> Professor Nicolas Gisin and his team back in the mid-1990s.

Now we find out what problem this really solves.

> Ribordy said the Swiss canton of Geneva -- there are 26 cantons
> throughout all Switzerland -- has about 200,000 registered voters who
> will either go to the polls on Oct. 21 and cast their vote, or vote by
> mail. "The votes cast by mail are all collected in the days before the
> election and all brought to the central counting station on Oct. 21,"
> Ribordy said.

> "Once the election is closed -- at noon on Sunday, Oct. 21 -- the sealed
> ballot boxes of all the polling stations are brought to the central
> counting station, where they are opened and where the votes are mixed
> with the mail votes. Counting them is then manually done at the central
> counting station. People counting the votes at this central station use
> computers to transfer the counts to the data center of the canton of
> Geneva," Ribordy explained.

But instead of signing the actual counts entered into the computer, they
mysteriously choose secure the communication line...

> He said the quantum cryptography system is ready to be put into
> action. Ribordy doesn't think the high-speed link has been encrypted by
> any means in the past, but he added that the IT department of the Swiss
> government is not sharing a lot of information on certain details for
> security reasons.

Common sense is a rapidly disappearing commodity.

> "Protection of the federal elections is of historical importance in the
> sense that, after several years of development and experimentation, this
> will be the first use of the 1GHz quantum encrypter, which is
> transparent for the user, and an ordinary fiber-optic line to send data
> endowed with relevance and purpose," said Professor Gisin in a prepared
> statement. "So this occasion marks quantum technology's real debut."

There is real charm in the phrase "endowed with relevance and purpose".

One might, by analogy with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, speculate that
prior to some of the relevance and purpose of the election data rubbing
off on the QC system, the QC system was the one more lacking in these
desirable attributes. If wants to really go out on a limb, one might
try to apply the fist law also, and conclude that the election data has
as a result less relevance and purpose.

In our physical analogy, heat is replaced with "trust/relevance/purpose".
One can transfer this "heat" from the election to a technology or from a
technology an election, always in the expected direction.


 /"\ ASCII RIBBON                  NOTICE: If received in error,
 \ / CAMPAIGN     Victor Duchovni  please destroy and notify
  X AGAINST       IT Security,     sender. Sender does not waive
 / \ HTML MAIL    Morgan Stanley   confidentiality or privilege,
                                   and use is prohibited.

The Cryptography Mailing List
Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to majordomo at metzdowd.com

More information about the cryptography mailing list