Feeds

Cops cuff man who exposed holes in 'perfect' voting machines

Expose a vuln, go to jail

Website security in corporate America

Indian authorities have arrested a computer scientist for refusing to divulge the source of an electronic voting machine that he and a team of researchers used to expose holes in the country's election system.

The Hyderabad home of Hari Prasad, managing director of Netindia LTD, was raided on Saturday morning at 5:30 by authorities who questioned him for two and a half hours before taking him into custody, a colleague of his said here. Police then transported him to Mumbai, which is about 14 hours away.

The arrest follows research released in April that disclosed several vulnerabilities in India's electronic voting machines, which authorities have claimed are fully tamper-proof and even perfect. The flaws were discovered on a machine that an anonymous source donated to the research team in February, after elections officials refused to make one available.

“The police did not state a specific charge at the time of the arrest, but it appears to be a politically motivated attempt to uncover our anonymous source,” J. Alex Halderman, one of the members of the team that exposed the vulnerabilities, wrote on Sunday. “The arresting officers told Hari that they were under 'pressure [from] the top,' and that he would be left alone if he would reveal the source's identity.”

In 2009, officials from the Election Commission of India publicly challenged Prasad to prove the machines were flawed but then refused to give him access to one of the devices. The team – which besides Prasad and Halderman also included Rop Gonggrijp – was able to continue with the help of the anonymous source.

“We have every reason to believe that the source had lawful access to the machine and made it available for scientific study as a matter of conscience, out of concern over potential security problems,” Halderman wrote.

In April, the team released this paper (PDF), which identified several hardware-based attacks that insiders with physical access to the machines could use to falsify elections. The paper didn't cover software-based vulnerabilities because the researchers weren't able to extract the code without destroying the device.

Concern has been growing in India about the reliability of e-voting. In April, 13 political parties representing about half of India's electorate wrote to elections officials to express their concerns, according to Indiaevm.com. Earlier this month, more than two dozen scientists and researchers wrote India's chief election commissioner to warn of vulnerabilities in the country's electronic voting machines. A PDF of their letter is here. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.