Security Problems in India
Speaker: Hari K. Prasad and J. Alex Halderman, UMich , Contact:
Date: November 12 2010
Time: 10:30AM to 12:00PM
Location: 32-G449 Patil/Kiva
Host: Shafi Goldwasser, CSAIL, MIT
Be Blackburn , 3-6098, firstname.lastname@example.orgRelevant URL: http://www.indiaevm.org/paper.html
India uses paperless electronic voting machines (EVMs) nationwide.
These machines use a simple embedded system architecture that is
considerably different from the complex voting machines typically used
in the U.S. and Europe, where almost all prior research has focused.
Despite suspicions of fraud, Indian authorities have never permitted a
serious, independent review of the machines' security.
Hyderabad-based engineer Hari Prasad spent a year trying to convince
election officials to complete such a review, but they insisted that
the government-made machines were “perfect,” "infallible," and
“tamperproof.” Then, in February of this year, an anonymous source
offered him access to one of the machines to study. He assembled an
international research team, including J. Alex Halderman from the
University of Michigan and Rop Gonggrijp from the Netherlands.
Together, they discovered that, far from being tamper-proof, the
machines suffer from serious weaknesses that could be exploited to
alter national election results.
Months of hot debate about these findings have produced a growing
consensus that India’s electronic voting machines should be scrapped.
There have also been more disturbing developments: Prasad was arrested
and jailed in August by authorities demanding to know the identity of
the anonymous source. He has since been released on bail, and he is
visiting the U.S. to accept the Electronic Frontier Foundation's
Pioneer Award for his work.
In this talk, Prasad and Halderman will describe the design and
motivations behind India's electronic voting system, the technical
problems their study demonstrated, the political circumstances behind
Prasad's arrest, and the implications of the machines' security
weaknesses for voting technology in India and beyond. They'll also
discuss some of the formidable practical challenges that India and
many other democracies face in conducting elections. Designing voting
systems that provide transparency and security under these constraints
presents many open problems.
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