Trust Implications of DDoS Protection in Online Elections

  • Chris Culnane
  • Mark Eldridge
  • Aleksander EssexEmail author
  • Vanessa Teague
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10615)


Online elections make a natural target for distributed denial of service attacks. Election agencies wary of disruptions to voting may procure DDoS protection services from a cloud provider. However, current DDoS detection and mitigation methods come at the cost of significantly increased trust in the cloud provider. In this paper we examine the security implications of denial-of-service prevention in the context of the 2017 state election in Western Australia, revealing a complex interaction between actors and infrastructure extending far beyond its borders.

Based on the publicly observable properties of this deployment, we outline several attack scenarios including one that could allow a nation state to acquire the credentials necessary to man-in-the-middle a foreign election in the context of an unrelated domestic law enforcement or national security operation, and we argue that a fundamental tension currently exists between trust and availability in online elections.



The authors thank the Western Australian Election Commission for quick acknowledgement and response to our disclosure. Thanks also to Yuval Yarom and the anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Culnane
    • 1
  • Mark Eldridge
    • 2
  • Aleksander Essex
    • 3
    Email author
  • Vanessa Teague
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information SystemsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Computer ScienceUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  4. 4.Department of Computing and Information SystemsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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