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The Pentagon has abandoned an Internet voting system that was planned for deployment this year.

Accenture's live SERVE prototype was designed to allow US citizens overseas the chance to vote electronically in primary and general elections, with 100,000 members of the military serving oversees the first to trial the system.

But a scathing report by four experts concluded that it wasn't safe in any circumstances.

"Because the danger of successful, large-scale attacks is so great, we reluctantly recommend shutting down the development of SERVE immediately and not attempting anything like it in the future until both the Internet and the world's home computer infrastructure have been fundamentally redesigned, or some other unforeseen security breakthroughs appear," they wrote. "There really is no good way to build such a voting system without a radical change in overall architecture of the Internet and the PC, or some unforeseen security breakthrough. The SERVE project is thus too far ahead of its time, and should wait until there is a much improved security infrastructure to build upon."

The report was written by former ACM president Barbara Simons, parallel computing expert and e-voting expert David Jefferson, security guru Avi Rubin and UC Berkeley cryptographers David Wagner. (Wagner was involved in unearthing flaws in the crypto in the GSM phone standard and 802.11's WEP).

Seven states had been slated to use the $22 million system. ®

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