Next year, Swiss authorities will put one of the country’s two e-voting systems up for attack by hackers – with a prize on offer for those who break it. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), a strong backer of online voting, has welcomed the confidence test. The test, organised jointly by federal and regional authorities, will take place over four weeks sometime in spring 2019, the NZZ am Sonntag reports. According to the newspaper, the Federal Chancellery has a budget of some CHF250,000 ($247,500) to implement the contest and pay the hackers; a figure not confirmed by the authorities themselves. Contacted by swissinfo.ch, OSA Director Ariane Rustichelli said that it was “a good sign that the Federal Chancellery, which is leading the project, is reacting to and taking seriously the fears [around e-voting]. Because, for about a year and a half now, more and more critical voices are arising, including in parliament”. The OSA, which represents the interests of the 750,000 Swiss living abroad, is a heavily involved in debates around voting rights and the rolling out of online ballots. “If we manage to show that e-voting is safe, this could boost confidence in the system,” Rustichelli said.
For the test, hackers and IT specialists from inside and outside Switzerland will try to attack, manipulate, or pirate one of the two e-voting systems currently in use in the country – that operated by Swiss Postexternal link, writes the NZZ am Sonntag.
According to the newspaper, hackers can already sign up to participate, and the Federal Chancellery is keen to ensure as much participation as possible from around the world.
Swiss public television, SRF, recently showed that during another test, hackers easily managed to manipulate the other e-voting system currently in use in Switzerland, developed by the canton of Geneva. Voters targeted by the hackers were redirected to a separate, bespoke page developed for the experiment.