Friday, August 27, 2010

There is an urgent need for public scrutiny of Electronic Voting Machines

Recently, Hari Prasad,managing director of Hyderabad-based Net India Private Limited stole an Electronic Voting Machine to prove that the system is vulnerable.He has done a great service to the nation. These Electronic Voting machines need to be tested for any possible security flaws — that is a standard operating procedure which is carried out by the world’s biggest technical conglomerates to make their systems foolproof, writes Samir Kelekar in Moneylife.

Read the whole article:

An interesting incident regarding Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) has hit the headlines in recent days. Hari Prasad, managing director of Hyderabad-based Net India Private Limited, was arrested for 'stealing' an EVM.

He 'stole' the machine to demonstrate that the EVM can be tampered with. In fact, he - along with a University of Michigan professor and a Dutch security researcher - has even published a research paper on the vulnerability of the EVM.


Mr Prasad's claim is that he had approached the Election Commission (EC) with a request to allow him access to the machine, but they refused to do so; at the same time the EC claimed that the EVMs are foolproof and secure. Finding no other way to address an issue which is at the heart of India's democracy, namely free and fair elections, Mr Prasad acquired the machine by other means.

Mr Prasad in my opinion has done a great service to the nation. By showing that the EVMs can be tampered with, he has opened up a dialogue on the vulnerability of the EVMs. The EC on the other hand is blatantly misleading the Indian people saying that these machines are secure. Further, they refused to allow access to these machines to security professionals. If indeed the machines are secure as they claim, why not allow access to security professionals?

In fact, the EC should have hired ethical hackers themselves to find vulnerabilities in their machines.That is the practice followed worldwide by companies whose products can be potentially hacked. The behaviour of the EC reeks of ignorance of current security practices.


Our EC has over the years gained a good reputation for conducting the world's largest free and fair elections. But this act nullifies at least some of it.


Meanwhile, today's reports indicate that some of the top officials in India have claimed that there is a political conspiracy to discredit India's election process via this hacking attempt. Politicising everything is the nature of India's politicians. It is irrelevant to the discussion whether there is a political angle behind Mr Prasad's act or not. That certainly does not absolve the EC of its lack of attention to security vulnerabilities in the machine.

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Read the article on Miracle Of Democracy.

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