While Brazil held the first round of municipal elections in 2020, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) dealt with some incidents, including a DDoS attack held on Sunday morning (15). The agency also confirmed a data leak on the same day, but reassured: the leaked information is old and does not compromise the elections.
According to SaferNet, an entity that works together with the Federal Public Ministry to monitor electoral fraud over the internet, the attacks aimed to discredit the Electoral Justice and, eventually, serve as a basis for allegations of adulteration of voting results.
This explains the leak on a critical date: at 9:25 am on Sunday, internal TSE data was released on the internet. However, an investigation by the Federal Police points out that the attack that gave rise to the leak occurred on October 23 this year. The release would have occurred during the voting period to suggest that the Electoral Justice systems are compromised.
TSE pointed out that the incident involved only administrative data for the period between 2001 and 2010. The leak contained information from former servants and retired ministers. Investigations also point out that the attack was carried out with IP addresses from Portugal.
Luís Roberto Barroso, minister and president of the TSE, explained that the leak had no consequences for the vote. “The polls are not networked, so they are not vulnerable to this type of attack. There is nothing about it that can interfere with the electoral process, ”he said.
But there was also the DDoS attack. Thiago Tavares, president of SaferNet, points out that a denial of service attack started at 10:41 am on Sunday with the aim of making the TSE website and services unavailable. The action would have been carried out using computers from Brazil, the United States and New Zealand.
“Being attacked is not the privilege of any institution. What is meaningful is when they have any results ”, declared Barroso. However, according to the minister himself, the attack did not bring down the TSE systems.
Instability in the e-Title
The attacks may not have affected the TSE systems, but the fact is that, during the weekend, not everything was working properly: voters across Brazil had difficulty accessing the e-Título system during the period.
Barroso admitted the problem, but argued that the instability was a consequence of the overload that the system suffered due to the large volume of accesses: on Sunday alone, about 3 million voters downloaded the e-Título application to justify their vote, reveals the TSE .
The counting of votes was also unstable, but the agency again signaled that the incident was not the result of an attack, but of a problem in one of the supercomputer processors that performs the counting. Also according to the TSE, there were delays in disclosing the results, but the votes were not compromised.
As expected, the incidents were used as a basis for argument by politicians who defend the return to the printed vote, like Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP). On Twitter, the federal deputy declared:
They report that TSE was attacked by hackers. TSE denies. Then TSE databases are exposed. This brings an atmosphere of insecurity, which makes people suspicious that the delay in disclosure could be a new hacker attack or manipulation since there is no transparency.
Barroso countered the criticisms of the electronic voting machine saying that the return to the printed vote does not serve the best public interest and recalled that, in the last 24 years, Brazil has elected presidents with the system without any fraud having been proven.
With information: Folha de S.Paulo, TSE.