If you are an ethical hacker, then the state Election Commission is looking for you.
As it aims to introduce e-voting in the upcoming civic elections in Mumbai next year, officials wary of independent agencies embarrassing them have now decided to offer Rs 10 lakh to anyone who can hack their e-voting system.
The SEC is all set to float tenders to invite consultants, and one of the conditions is that hackers be ethical and have a demo to hack the software. This comes after the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s decision to introduce EVMs drew a lot of flak.
Experts and activists had publicly highlighted how EVMs could be tampered with, in a way that could affect the final result. SEC officials now admit there is serious concern on the security and confidentiality aspect in e-voting as well.
“The security aspect remains a key concern. Hence, we have ensured there are enough checks to ensure secrecy of the voter and confidentiality,” said Neela Satyanarayan, state election commissioner.
Accordingly, once the software is created, ethical hackers will be invited to test it.
“These security concerns have led us to insert such a clause to ensure that the consultant who creates the software doesn’t give us a chance to complain. Also, as this is the first time we are trying it in the state, we want to make doubly sure of its safety,” said additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta, who heads the SEC’s technical committee on e-voting. Gupta said the clause also made it clear that the money would have to be paid by the consultant.
“The software has to stand the test of such hacking, and in case someone succeeds and shows us the loopholes, the consultant will have to bear the cost and the software will have to be reworked.” There will also be a slight increase in the cost of the polling exercise, in case e-voting is introduced.
In the civic elections held in 2007, the polls cost the civic body Rs 23 crore. “We are now looking at an increase of around Rs 2-3 per registered voter, and hence, the whole exercise cost could be twice as much.” A team of SEC officials will also be going to Gandhinagar, in Gujarat, to see how e-voting works during local polls on April 19.