Attacking the Washington, D.C. Internet Voting System

  • Scott Wolchok
  • Eric Wustrow
  • Dawn Isabel
  • J. Alex Halderman
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7397)

Abstract

In 2010, Washington, D.C. developed an Internet voting pilot project that was intended to allow overseas absentee voters to cast their ballots using a website. Prior to deploying the system in the general election, the District held a unique public trial: a mock election during which anyone was invited to test the system or attempt to compromise its security. This paper describes our experience participating in this trial. Within 48 hours of the system going live, we had gained near-complete control of the election server. We successfully changed every vote and revealed almost every secret ballot. Election officials did not detect our intrusion for nearly two business days—and might have remained unaware for far longer had we not deliberately left a prominent clue. This case study—the first (to our knowledge) to analyze the security of a government Internet voting system from the perspective of an attacker in a realistic pre-election deployment—attempts to illuminate the practical challenges of securing online voting as practiced today by a growing number of jurisdictions.

Keywords

Internet voting e-voting penetration testing case studies 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott Wolchok
    • 1
  • Eric Wustrow
    • 1
  • Dawn Isabel
    • 1
  • J. Alex Halderman
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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