The Candid Eye

May 4, 2010

India’s Electronic Voting Machines Proven Insecure

In a collaborative study, a team of Indian and international experts have revealed that the electronic voting machines used in Indian elections are vulnerable to fraud. Even brief access to the machines, known in India as EVMs, could allow criminals to alter election results.

These research findings are at odds with claims made by the Election Commission of India, the country’s highest election authority, which has maintained that weaknesses found in other electronic voting systems around the world do not apply to India’s EVMs. Less than a year ago, it stated: “Today, the Commission once again completely reaffirms its faith in the infallibility of the EVMs. These are fully tamper-proof, as ever.” [1] As recently as two days ago, the Chief Election Commissioner described electronic voting machines as “perfect” and claimed that “till today, no individual could prove that the EVMs used by the EC can be tampered with.” [2]

Almost the entire population of India votes on electronic voting machines. There are around 1.4 million of the machines in use, all of the controversial “Direct Recording Electronic” (DRE) variety. Such machines record the votes only to internal memory and provide no paper records for later inspection or recount. With DREs, absolute trust is placed in the hardware and software of the voting machines. Paperless electronic voting systems have been criticized globally and more and more countries and US states are abandoning such systems altogether.

EVM : Image Courtesy - http://indiaevm.org/

In a video released today, the researchers show two demonstration attacks against a real Indian EVM. One attack involves replacing a small part of the machine with a look-alike component that can be silently instructed to steal a percentage of the votes in favor of a chosen candidate. These instructions can be sent wirelessly from a mobile phone. Another attack uses a pocket-sized device to change the votes stored in the EVM between the election and the public counting session (which in India can be weeks later).

This study was performed by researchers at NetIndia, (P)Ltd., in Hyderabad, the University of Michigan in the United States, and at a non-profit in the Netherlands that specializes in electronic voting related issues.

Inside EVM : Image Courtesy - http://indiaevm.org/

The researchers were also surprised to find that the vote-counting software in the EVMs is programmed into so-called “mask programmed microcontrollers,” which do not allow the software to be read out and verified. Because these chips are made in the US and Japan, this has led to a situation in which nobody in India knows for sure what software is in these machines or whether it counts votes accurately.

Hari Prasad is a computer engineer and managing director of NetIndia, a Hyderabad-based technology firm. Prasad organized the study and says the findings are the culmination of a seven month investigation. “Everywhere I looked there were more security problems. I am glad that with the presentation of this work, the debate over whether India’s EVMs are secure is over. We need to look forward now. India deserves a transparent election process, which these machines simply cannot deliver.”

Rop Gonggrijp, a security researcher from the Netherlands, also took part in the study. Says Gonggrijp: “Never mind what election officials say, this research once again shows that the longstanding scientific consensus holds true—DRE voting machines are fundamentally vulnerable. Such machines have already been abandoned in Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Florida and many other places. India should follow suit.”

Gonggrijp continues: “In order to have any transparency in elections, you need to have votes on paper. Computers can be programmed to count votes honestly, but since nobody can watch them, they might just as easily be programmed to count dishonestly. How is the voter supposed to tell the difference?”

Professor J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan helped develop the new attacks along with his students. “Almost every component of this system could be attacked to manipulate election results,” says Dr. Halderman. “This proves, once again, that the paperless class of voting systems has intrinsic security problems. It is hard to envision systems like this being used responsibly in elections.”

The newly released video and technical report can be found at http://IndiaEVM.org.

[1] ECI press release, August 8, 2009
[2] Interview with Navin B Chawla, Rediff.com India news, April 26, 2010

For more information, please contact authors@IndiaEVM.org.

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September 26, 2009

Saudis have radicalized 80% of US mosques!!!

Filed under: Hinduism,Kashmir,Monuments — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Mainstream US Muslim organizations are heavily influenced by Saudi-funded extremists, according to Yehudit Barsky, an expert on terrorism at the American Jewish Committee.

Worse still, Barsky told The Jerusalem Post last week, these “extremist organizations continue to claim the mantle of leadership” over American Islam.

The power of the extremist Wahhabi form of Islam in the United States was created with generous Saudi financing of American Muslim communities over the past few decades. Over 80 percent of the mosques in the United States “have been radicalized by Saudi money and influence,” Barsky said.

A Mosque in Michigan

A Mosque in Michigan

Before the 1970s, she explained, “Muslim immigrants who came to the United States would build a store-front mosque somewhere. Then, since the 1970s, the Saudis have been approaching these mosques and telling them it wasn’t proper for the glory of Islam to build such small mosques.”

For many Muslims, it seemed the Saudis were offering a free mosque. However, Barsky believes for each mosque they invested in, the Saudis sent along their own imam (teacher-cleric).

“These [immigrants] were not interested in this [Wahhabi] ideology, and suddenly they have a Saudi imam coming in and telling them they’re not praying properly and not practicing Shari’a [Islamic law] properly.” This Saudi strategy was being carried out “all over the world, from America to Bangladesh,” with the Saudis investing $70-80 billion in the endeavor over three decades.

Barsky, who heads the AJC’s Division on Middle East and International Terrorism and is the executive editor of Counterterrorism Watch, said this means that “the people now in control of teaching religion [to American Muslims] are extremists. Who teaches the mainstream moderate non-Saudi Islam that people used to have? It’s in the homes, but there’s no infrastructure. Eighty percent of the infrastructure is controlled by these extremists.”

The same is true, Barsky said, of many of the mainstream Muslim organizations in America. Many of them are “pro-Saudi and pro-Muslim Brotherhood organizations.”

As examples, she listed three important groups: the Islamic Society of North America, which “supports the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi regime;” the Islamic Circle of North America, which “is composed of members of Jamaat e-Islami, a Pakistani Islamic radical organization similar to the Muslim Brotherhood that helped to establish the Taliban;” and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), “founded in the 1980s by pro-Hamas activists.”

The problem is most acute when it comes to interfaith relations. When advising colleagues on interfaith work with their Muslim counterparts, Barsky tells them “to proceed with caution, [since] some of the [extremist] organizations have concluded that interfaith dialogue is a good way to spread the ideology.”

Indeed, despite instructions given in Saudi embassy literature – and available in many mosques throughout the country – which blast Jewish and Christian “corruption and immorality” and teach Muslims that “the only way to survive is to have no contact with the infidel Christians and Jews,” these organizations reach out to Jews and Christians.

Barsky explained that interfaith dialogue gives such organizations a public legitimacy that their ideology would deny them if they expressed it outright.

“So there’s a problem,” Barsky concluded, “with knowing who these people are, who is really moderate. [These organizations] come to the Jewish community to talk about interfaith, while they still teach anti-Western and anti-Christian doctrines to their followers. Some of the leaders have even condoned suicide bombings in Israel and against American armed forces.”

Her advice to American Jewish organizations who want to take part in interfaith activities: “Take time to learn who they are and what they’re saying. It’s more complicated than just respecting each other.”

As for finding true moderates in the American Muslim community, Barsky said such organizations “have quite a way to go before they will have the level of organization” displayed by the extremist organizations. “So there’s a moderate voice that hasn’t been heard. But it’s starting to be heard, and that’s because of the anger over [organizations such as] CAIR claiming the mantle of leadership.”

For example, organizations such as the Arizona-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy and the Washington-based Center for Islamic Pluralism are both new and “have gathered under their umbrella a number of moderate organizations.”

As for combatting Islamic radicals in America, Barsky thinks Americans need to change the way they think about Wahhabi Islam.

“The United States has a hard time understanding the extremists’ ideology. Americans don’t like to interfere in the religion of other people. But the reality is that this isn’t religion, but a politicized radical ideology. It’s very dangerous,” she warned, adding that the people who are being taught this ideology are prime targets for recruitment by terror organizations.

“If we don’t understand that [these groups] are dangerous,” she concluded simply, “we’re going to suffer the consequences.”

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