OWASP Israel 2008 Conference Alon Rosen

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Cryptographic Elections - How to Simultaneously Achieve Verifiability and Privacy

Advances in computer technology have created the illusion that electronic means would bring us closer to achieving improved voting systems. However, if not designed properly, electronic elections carry more risk than reward. The core of the problem is that computers cannot be trusted, both because of malicious software, and because code verification is effectively infeasible. Needless to say that this reduces the trust in the result of the election, and may have disastrous consequences.

In this talk I will survey the saga of electronic elections in the United States, and use it to motivate the concept of "software independence" (Rivest and Wack '06). I will then describe how modern cryptographic techniques can be harnessed in order to implement election mechanisms that enable both public verifiability and ballot secrecy. This is a combination that cannot be achieved by other means.


Alon Rosen is a faculty member in the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. Before that he spent two years as a postdoc in the Cryptography Group of MIT's Computer Science and AI Lab, and two years as a postdoc in the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard's department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He did his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His main fields of interest are Cryptography and Computational Complexity.