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Attacking the Washington, D.C. Internet Voting System

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNSC,volume 7397)


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.


  • Internet voting
  • e-voting
  • penetration testing
  • case studies

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-32946-3_10
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© 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Wolchok, S., Wustrow, E., Isabel, D., Halderman, J.A. (2012). Attacking the Washington, D.C. Internet Voting System. In: Keromytis, A.D. (eds) Financial Cryptography and Data Security. FC 2012. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 7397. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-32945-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-32946-3

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