Its a tough
question, and it has a lot to do with perception. Of course everyone
knows perception is reality.
Right now you can
open GEMS' .mdb file with MS-Access, and alter its contents. That
includes the audit log. This isn't anything new. In VTS, you can
open the database with progress and do the same. The same would go for
anyone else's system using whatever database they are using. Hard drives
are read-write entities. You can change their contents.
Now, where the
perception comes in is that its right now very *easy* to change the
contents. Double click the .mdb file. Even technical wizards at
Metamor (or Ciber, or whatever) can figure that one out.
It is possible to
put a secret password on the .mdb file to prevent Metamor from opening it with
Access. I've threatened to put a password on the .mdb before when
dealers/customers/support have done stupid things with the GEMS database
structure using Access. Being able to end-run the database has
admittedly got people out of a bind though. Jane (I think it was Jane)
did some fancy footwork on the .mdb file in Gaston recently. I know our
do it. King County is famous for it. That's why we've never put a
password on the file before.
that even if we put a password on the file, it doesn't really prove
much. Someone has to know the password, else how would GEMS open
it. So this technically brings us back to square one: the audit
log is modifiable by that person at least (read, me). Back to perception
though, if you don't bring this up you might skate through
There might be
some clever crypto techniques to make it even harder to change the log (for
me, they guy with the password that is). We're talking big changes
here though, and at the moment largely theoretical ones. I'd doubt that
any of our competitors are that clever.
By the way, all of
this is why Texas gets its sh*t in a knot over the log printer. Log
printers are not read-write, so you don't have the problem. Of course if
I were Texas I would be more worried about modifications to our electronic
ballots than to our electron logs, but that is another story I
Bottom line on
Metamor is to find out what it is going to take to make them happy. You
can try the old standard of the NT password gains access to the operating
system, and that after that point all bets are off. You have to trust
the person with the NT password at least. This is all about Florida, and
we have had VTS certified in Florida under the status quo for nearly ten
I sense a loosing
battle here though. The changes to put a password on the .mdb file are
not trivial and probably not even backward compatible, but we'll do it if that
is what it is going to take.
Jennifer Price at Metamor (about to be Ciber)
has indicated that she can access the GEMS Access database and alter the
Audit log without entering a password. What is the position of our
development staff on this issue? Can we justify this? Or should
this be anathema?