Researcher Arrested for Disclosing Problems with Electronic Voting Machines
“A security researcher in India has been arrested after he refused to provide authorities with the name of a person who supplied him with an electronic voting machine that was used to discover vulnerabilities in the system. The researcher had used the machine to demonstrate how someone could hack voting systems to easily subvert an election.
“The voting system was allegedly taken from a storage facility at the district election office in Mumbai. It was reported missing on May 12, after Prasad disclosed on a television program in India that he had received a machine from an anonymous source. It’s not clear why it took authorities so long to act on the report, but the arrest comes about a week after two representatives of the India Election Commission got into a heated debate about the country’s machines, during a panel discussion at an electronic voting conference in Washington, D.C.
“Following that discussion, 28 computer security researchers signed a letter to India’s election commission stating that the country’s voting machines ‘do not today provide security, verifiability, or transparency adequate for confidence in election results.’
“Prasad examined the system with two other researchers, J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan, and Dutch hacker and longtime e-voting activist Rop Gonggrijp.
“They demonstrated two attacks (see below) that could be conducted against the machines. One involves replacing a digital display board on the machine with a look-alike part that could be used to receive instruction from the hackers—sent wirelessly via a mobile phone—to steal votes for a candidate. The second attack uses a small device that connects to the machine’s memory to change votes stored on a machine after the election, before the votes are counted.”
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