A part of the group, Martin Tschirsich, an IT senior from Darmstadt, said he was surprised to come across the gaps in the 30-year old system.
Voting in Germany is made with pen and paper, and the results are calculated by hand and then adjusted by computer. The hackers said while final decisions could not be changed, a false early result could quickly be sent out, indicating chaos and confusion.
“First of all I imagined this can’t be possible,” Tschirsich told hessenschau.de. “Trust in the voting process could be damaged if the real result was to differ significantly from the preceding ones.”
He said he did out of the need to protect the constitutional process by notifying the authorities of the vulnerabilities, which he thought could have been spotted by “even the utmost average” IT student.
The organization that runs the software, vote iT, said it was managing to fix the problems.
Tschirsich told he had gone to the media with his conclusions after being rejected by both vote iT and the electoral offices. “They were very deprecatory towards me,” he said.
The hacker collective Chaos Computer Club (CCC) said it had found a series of defects in the software that made it “highly vulnerable” to manipulation.
Security analysts have long suggested that certain German authorities must take a sincere approach to election security, with leaders often stating that a hand-counted result could not be shaped. But the high-profile incidents of hacking in the US and France in which the secret documents of Hillary Clinton and Emmanuel Macron have been circulated have agreed as a wake-up call.
A widespread approval of Russian interference in both the US and France, as well as a hack attack on the Bundestag in 2015 which is supposed to have had all the signs of Russian involvement, have provoked the German government to heighten both its voting technology and election security, though few particular details of actions taken have been released.
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