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Hackers to put latest Swiss e-voting software to the test

E-voting: for opponents unsafe, for supporters a way to boost voter turnout. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The Swiss Post’s e-vote system is opening itself to attacks by ethical hackers in an effort to weed out security flaws.

The window for the test runs until September 2, during which time hackers will be able to launch attacks on the source code under realistic conditions, Swiss Post said on Monday.

Sample voting cards will be provided to the hackers, who will then simulate the act of casting a ballot while carrying out targeted attacks on the system. Rewards of up to CHF30,000 ($31,320) are on offer for the discovery of significant flaws.

The current system being developed by the state-owned postal service has been tested and scrutinised by experts since last year, Swiss Post said. However, this is the first time it’s opening itself to such a public intrusion test.

In April this year, the Federal Chancellery, which oversees e-voting on behalf of the Swiss government, said the system had been significantly updated since 2019, when a previous version was shelved due to the discovery of serious security flaws. Technical improvements were however still necessary, the chancellery said.

Despite decades of trials and initiatives, no e-voting system is currently available for use in Switzerland. As well as the Swiss Post problems in 2019, another prototype system was dropped by canton Geneva in 2018 due to cost issues. Authorities foresee that cantons will again be able to apply to use an e-voting channel for votes as of next year, should the Swiss Post system be deemed safe enough. So far at least three of the 26 cantons have declared an interest.

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About Swissinfo
SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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