Election hacking – Yup, must be the Russians

Foreign states may have interfered in Brexit vote, report says

Err, the site where you registered to vote collapsed on the last day.

This is about normal for government IT, no?

And if it was a DDOS attack, 4chan rather than Russia would be the first thought.

Foreign governments such as Russia and China may have been involved in the collapse of a voter registration website in the run-up to the EU referendum, a committee of MPs has claimed.

A report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC) said MPs were deeply concerned about the allegations of foreign interference in last year’s Brexit vote.

Really, all a bit weak.

23 comments on “Election hacking – Yup, must be the Russians

  1. “This is about normal for government IT, no?”

    Well, no. Usually the first day, because they haven’t stress tested properly.

  2. I suppose it was about time the “Reds under the beds” fashion reappeared.

    I wonder who the next McCarthy will be?

  3. More likely done by the remain side, so that they could get an extension, and gin up their support. Tens of thousands of people signed up after the time was extended.

  4. MPs were deeply concerned about …

    Well, yes. That’s what they see as their job. To be deeply concerned about things the rest of us wish they’d just leave alone. Like 5-a-day and double summer time and Islamophobia and …

  5. And they’ve completely missed the whole point of the report which was about Cameron’s incompetence and hijacking of the Government for his own ends and how future referendums should be run.

    24.In other countries, referendums are not conducted on the basis that a Prime Minister must resign in the event of losing a referendum. A more responsible conduct of the Government’s case in the run up to the referendum, and proper planning for a Leave vote, would not have opened up so much new controversy nor left the Prime Minister’s authority and credibility undermined. Using a referendum as a “bluff call” in order to close down unwelcome debate on an issue is a questionable use of referendums. Indeed, it is incumbent on future Parliaments and governments to consider the potential consequences of promising referendums, particularly when, as a result, they may be expected to implement an outcome that they opposed.

    ..

    Conclusion: the machinery of government and the EU referendum

    32.While it is perfectly legitimate for the Prime Minister and government to take an official position during a referendum campaign, the fairness, and legitimacy, of a referendum rests on a careful and restrained use of the machinery of government. Unfortunately, many of the Government’s actions in the run-up to the referendum appear to have increased public distrust. As Sir Jeremy Heywood has acknowledged, the use of the machinery of government during the referendum contributed to a perception that the civil service were, in some way, biased. That any such perception exists is deeply regrettable and was entirely avoidable. We recommend that the Government heed the lessons from this referendum of the implications of the use of the machinery of government during referendums on public trust and confidence in the institutions of government. (Paragraph 178)

    ..

    178. While it is perfectly legitimate for the Prime Minister and government to take an official position during a referendum campaign, the fairness, and legitimacy, of a referendum rests on a careful and restrained use of the machinery of government. Unfortunately, many of the Government’s actions in the run-up to the referendum appear to have increased public distrust. As Sir Jeremy Heywood has acknowledged, the use of the machinery of government during the referendum contributed to a perception that the civil service were, in some way, biased. That any such perception exists is deeply regrettable and was entirely avoidable. We recommend that the Government heed the lessons from this referendum of the implications of the use of the machinery of government during referendums on public trust and confidence in the institutions of government.

    (Although I’ve left in paragraph numbers they’re from different section of the report.)

    Looking at the whole report and the way Cameron abused the process you have to ask how he managed to lose the vote.

    Ch 5, The machinery of government during the referendum is especially damming.

    H/T Raedwald

  6. When looking for interference in the referendum by foreign governments, surely China and Russia would be at the back of the queue?

  7. Found the report

    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmpubadm/496/49607.htm#_idTextAnchor025

    “88.On 7 June 2016, hours before the deadline for individuals to register to vote at the EU referendum, the voter registration website crashed. The collapse of the website, managed by the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service, was blamed on “unprecedented demand” for the service, with 515,256 online applications to register to vote recorded on 7 June (the previous record for the largest number of online applications received in a day was 469,047 on 20 April 2015).”

    Unless most of those happened in a few minutes, that isn’t a DDOS. Half a million applications happened out of an adult population of what, 50m? That’s hardly extreme, is it?

    Here’s my guess: any sort of news media, social media etc caused spikes in people registering. You could probably even track server request volume against such events.

    And yes, not enough capacity planning.

  8. Capacity planning is so last millennium. You just put it in the Cloud, man, and all your problems go away.

    Seriously, though, it’s a lot harder to DDoS Amazon or Azure or Google than it is some ratty server in a civil service basement somewhere.

  9. Bloke in North Dorset,

    “In other countries, referendums are not conducted on the basis that a Prime Minister must resign in the event of losing a referendum”

    eh? He said he was going to stay regardless of the result and there wasn’t a peep from anyone about it.

    It was Cameron, in a childish strop, who resigned the next day.

  10. More likely done by the remain side, so that they could get an extension, and gin up their support.

    Hardly, I’ve still got 12 hours of video from referendum night and it was quite clear that the Remain camp thought they had won until well after the polls had closed.

    Even Nigel Farage thought that the “Leave” side had lost (based upon polls floating around the city), which was why he initially conceded.

    In other countries, referendums are not conducted on the basis that a Prime Minister must resign in the event of losing a referendum

    Not really, but the key to not having to resign based upon the outcome of a referendum is by not putting your credibility on the line such that the vote is seen as going against the PM and the PM losing.

    This was a significant difference between the two EU referenda.

    Wily old Harold Wilson remained neutral in the referendum as Cameron should have done. He was openly shamed by the EU during his EU renegotiation “talks”, when he was largely ignored and treated with contempt.

    His support for the EU even after such humiliation was sickening and contemptible, it showed the backbone of a jellyfish.

    Walking away like a petulant child after the people voted against the EU was absolutely to be expected of Cameron. I am glad the bastard has gone.

  11. Dear Mr Worstall

    MP’s are deeply concerned about foreign interference in the Brexit vote? So they should be, and there was no clearer foreign interference than by that nice former pres. O’Bama, who ought to have been told to keep his expletive deleted nose out of our referendum.

    DP

  12. If only the Guardian had juxtaposed that article next to one denouncing “fake news” it would have been perfect.

  13. there was no clearer foreign interference than by that nice former pres. O’Bama, who ought to have been told to keep his expletive deleted nose out of our referendum

    You’re right, but equally it worked against Obama and the Remainers (sounds like a 50’s pop group).

    The British as a whole generally hated being told what to do and will cantankerously do the exact opposite just for spite.

    You get enough of that attitude as Project Fear demonstrates and people go the other way just as a “Fuck You!”.

    Anyone expecting the British (at least those outside of the major Metropolitan bubble of London) to act like Germans simply don’t understand the British.

  14. use of the machinery of government during the referendum contributed to a perception that the civil service were, in some way, biased.

    Lordy, hopefully you can put us right about that misperception!

    That any such perception exists is deeply regrettable and was entirely avoidable.

    Of course, but the civil service was actually neutral?

    We recommend that the Government heed the lessons…. groan…bore….fart

    Oh.

  15. Naturally the website asked which way you were going to vote before you could register…

  16. No-one was bothered about the Russians interfering with our democracy when they actually were, and sought to do us harm, and had the means to do so.

    Now they most likely probably aren’t, don’t really care and don’t have the wherewithal to do much anyway, everyone’s up in arms.

    Fuckwits.

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