Feeds

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

Expose a vuln, go to jail

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.