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Electronic Voting: Danger and Opportunity - March 21, 2013

It is our pleasure to host this distinguished lecture by Prof. J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan. The lecture will be followed by a reception. Please feel free to forward this invitation.

Date: March 21, 2013
Time: 16:30
Venue: Weicker Building -Room B001 Ground floor, 4 rue Alphonse Weicker, L-2721 Luxembourg

Abstract: In many countries, computer technology has transformed the way citizens participate in democracy.  The way people cast their votes, the way votes are counted, and the way society chooses who will lead are increasingly controlled by invisible computer software.  Most U.S. states have adopted electronic voting, and countries around the world are starting to collect votes over the Internet.  However, computerized voting raises startling security risks that are only beginning to be understood outside the research lab, from voting machine viruses that can silently change votes to the possibility that malicious hackers could steal an election.  At the same time, there are opportunities for technology--designed correctly and applied intelligently--to make elections more secure and efficient than ever.  

In this lecture, I will discuss electronic voting security in the context of my first-hand studies of e-voting systems used in the U.S. and abroad.  These (often uninvited) security evaluations have helped catalyze policy reforms affecting the voting technology used by almost a billion people.  Along the way, I’ll share adventures from my work at the intersection of technology and political power.  We will travel from Manhattan alleyways to Mumbai jail cells to the august halls of Washington, D.C., be accused of being a "foreign conspiracy" to destabilize a major democracy, and narrowly escape deportation.

Prof. J. Alex Halderman is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan.  His research focuses on computer security and privacy, with an emphasis on problems that broadly impact society and public policy.  He is well known for developing the "cold boot" attack against disk encryption, which altered widespread security assumptions about the behavior of RAM, influenced computer forensics practice, and inspired a new subfield of theoretical cryptography.  He helped conduct the first independent review of the election technology used in India, which prompted the national government to undertake major technical reforms.  In recent work, he exposed widespread flaws in public key generation that compromised the security of 5-10% of Internet hosts serving HTTPS and SSH.  His work has been recognized with two best paper awards from the USENIX Security conference.  He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University.