Voting Machine: TSE Opens Registration for Public Security Test | Brazil

The Superior Electoral Court published on Thursday (26) the notice for the public security test that tries to identify possible flaws in the electronic ballot box. Now in its sixth edition, the Public Security Test (TPS) is scheduled to take place between November 23 and 26, and presents an opportunity for Information Security specialists to detect flaws in the system that will be used in the 2022 Elections.

Electronic voting machine (Image: Disclosure/TSE)

Event invites PF agents to inspect ballot boxes

The TPS is an opportunity for IT and Information Security specialists from agencies such as the Federal Police to verify both the hardware and the software of electronic voting machines; they will be used next year during the election period. The event was inaugurated by the TSE in 2009.

Compared to previous editions, TPS 2021 has something new: the TSE decided to extend the event’s deadline from one to two weeks, between October 11th and 21st. There is a possibility that the event that exploits failures in the urn could be extended for another day after the end date

The TSE makes the electronic voting machines available for verification while still in the testing phase, which makes it possible to correct any errors in the system. During the TPS, participants — only allowed over the age of 18 — must make attempts to “get around” the barriers of the electronic voting process, finding flaws or vulnerabilities.

According to the secretary of Information Technology at the TSE, Júlio Valente, the TPS is essential for society as a whole, as it detects problems that can hinder the elections. “It is important to reinforce this spirit of collaboration, so that the Electoral Court, hand in hand with the participants, constantly seeks an increasingly safer system”, adds Valente.

Source code of the urn, target of attacks, will be analyzed

Among the electronic voting machines that will attempt to be “broken” is the source code of the electronic voting machine, which has been attacked by President Jair Bolsonaro. In one of his weekly YouTube and Facebook lives, Bolsonaro said the source code for the ballot box could be hacked to alter the election results. He claims that this is part of the alleged “fraud” that would have occurred during the 2018 presidential election.

In August, the Electoral Court anticipated the opening of the source code for the electronic voting machines. The measure is part of an initiative by the TSE Presidency to increase the transparency of the electoral system, which is constantly under attack from Bolsonaro.

TPS participants will also review security barriers, as pointed out by the head of the TSE’s Computerized Voting Section, Rodrigo Coimbra:

“We have the support of society to improve the system, reviewing our source code, testing our software, checking the operation of our security barriers, so that, together, the Court and society can have an even better electoral process”

TSE expands participation in the public voting of the ballot box

The TSE has increased the number of programs that can be checked by experts enrolled in TPS 2021. Professionals can inspect the electronic voting system’s auditing system on voting day; voting module; Pre/Post-election checker (VPP); and the electoral system integrity and authenticity checker (AVPART).

As in previous editions, participants will be able to identify flaws in other electronic voting systems, responsible for generating media, voting, counting and sending sealed files. Investigators will also investigate applications and interfaces present on the device, as well as the voting software itself.

What happens if I don't vote? (Image: Antonio Augusto/Ascom/TSE)
Source code of electronic voting machines has been under attack by President Jair Bolsonaro (Image: Ascom/TSE)

On the increase in systems that can be broken, Rodrigo Coimbra says:

“We are open for every citizen to put our systems to the test. Therefore, we have expanded the scope of programs that can be evaluated, including, for example, the verification of the digital summary, the log, the digital signature, the drawing of sessions for auditing and the Integrity Test itself”

For this 6th edition, the TPS increased the number of participants from 10 to 15. In addition to institutions such as the PF, technicians from academic institutions and other public bodies are invited. Called “researchers”, event members can form groups of up to 5 people.

Célio Wermelinger, advisor to the TSE’s Strategic Management Secretariat, explains that the increase in the number of participants is intended to increase the “contribution of civil society” and to make the voting system more mature.

Any inspections that result in the effective breach of the TSE system will be referred for review by the Court team. The investigators responsible for identifying the flaw will be called upon to repeat the process in the TSE Confirmation Test: it is the body’s way of assessing whether flaws have been corrected or if they persist.

Results of those approved for TPS 2021 come out in October

To register for the TPS 2021, the participant must have Brazilian nationality, be over 18 years of age and fulfill the requirements of the event form.

Once completed, the form will be sent to the TSE by August 29th. The publication of approved entries will take place on the following day, the 30th. Afterwards, each approved participant must present the resources present in their application — this stage takes place between September 30th and October 4th. The results of the last application phase will be announced on October 30th.

Check out the TPS 2021 notice in full, published in the Electronic Justice Gazette (DJe) this Thursday.

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