The New South Wales iVote System: Security Failures and Verification Flaws in a Live Online Election
- Cite this paper as:
- Halderman J.A., Teague V. (2015) The New South Wales iVote System: Security Failures and Verification Flaws in a Live Online Election. In: Haenni R., Koenig R., Wikström D. (eds) E-Voting and Identity. VoteID 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9269. Springer, Cham
In the world’s largest-ever deployment of online voting, the iVote Internet voting system was trusted for the return of 280,000 ballots in the 2015 state election in New South Wales, Australia. During the election, we performed an independent security analysis of parts of the live iVote system and uncovered severe vulnerabilities that could be leveraged to manipulate votes, violate ballot privacy, and subvert the verification mechanism. These vulnerabilities do not seem to have been detected by the election authorities before we disclosed them, despite a pre-election security review and despite the system having run in a live state election for five days. One vulnerability, the result of including analytics software from an insecure external server, exposed some votes to complete compromise of privacy and integrity. At least one parliamentary seat was decided by a margin much smaller than the number of votes taken while the system was vulnerable. We also found protocol flaws, including vote verification that was itself susceptible to manipulation. This incident underscores the difficulty of conducting secure elections online and carries lessons for voters, election officials, and the e-voting research community.