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Hired “hackers” are trying to break into the voting system in Brazil, but can not

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BRAZIL, Brazil (AP) – More than 20 potential hackers have gathered at the headquarters of the Brazilian electorate in the capital of this …

BRAZIL, Brazil (AP) – More than 20 potential hackers gathered at the headquarters of the Brazilian electorate in the capital this week. Their mission: to penetrate the country’s voting system before the long-awaited race in October.

Their 3-day battery of attempted attacks ended on Friday and was part of a planned test conducted each year of the election, usually running without incident or, for that matter, without attracting attention. But with President Jair Bolsanara constantly questioning the reliability of the system, the test has become huge as the electoral body, known as the TSE, seeks to build confidence in the upcoming general election.

Analysts and TSE members said the test results were more encouraging than ever. All experts who tried to disrupt the system, including federal police agents and teachers of engineering, information technology, data security and computer science, failed.

“No attack has been able to change the destination of the ballot paper,” said Julio Valente da Costa, TSE’s secretary of information technology, in an interview with the Associated Press. “The importance of this test is to make sure, at least, about all the technology and computing components for the election.”

When Bolsanara won the presidential race four years ago, he claimed he actually secured victory in the first round rather than the second round a few weeks later. The former army captain has repeatedly accused the voting system, which has been used for three decades, of being vulnerable, and has sometimes said he has evidence of fraud, but has never provided any evidence.

Last year, Bolsonara suggested that the election could be called off if Congress does not pass a vote reform. But the proposed constitutional changes did not garner enough votes.

Analysts and politicians are concerned that the far-right of Bolsonar, who is inferior to former left-wing President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in all early polls, is laying the groundwork to follow the example of his ally, former US President Donald Trump, and reject the election. .

TSE has gone to great lengths to bring more openness to the electoral process, even inviting the armed forces to sit on its Transparency Commission, although the role of the military in elections has traditionally been limited to handing out ballots to isolated communities and enhancing security in violent regions. .

Some political and military analysts say the TSE olive branch has proved a mistake as tensions have escalated since then.

Earlier this year, an army general on the commission handed over dozens of questions to the TSE.

“(The armed forces) are guided to attack the process and try to discredit it,” said Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, who chaired the TSE until February, during a conference with a German university on March 24. His comments drew Bassanar’s defense ministry to make a statement saying the accusation was a “serious insult.”

Barroso’s successor to the TSE, Supreme Court Justice Luis Edson Faczyn, said Thursday that the election would be held “by the armed forces”, adding that the declaration of the results of the TSE vote would be final.

However, some analysts remain concerned.

“The armed forces today are part of the Balsanar government from a political point of view, and they are helping the president erode institutions from within,” said Joao Martins Filho, a military expert who previously headed the Brazilian Defense Research Association. said on the phone. “It’s not a small thing. It’s very dangerous. “

Last week, as TSE prepared for its test, Bolsonara promised that his party would seek an external audit of the system before the first round of voting.

The TSE test began in November when experts selected 29 methods for hacking the voting system. The five managed to cause some obstacles that were minor and did not affect the results, the TSE said at the time. The five sites were assessed during a three-day test this week that showed all problems had been resolved, TSE member Sandra Nunez Vieira told reporters after its completion. The commission will evaluate the results and publish an official report in late May.

Carlos Alberto da Silva, a professor of data security at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, was part of a group trying to break into the system. He and a student discovered a loophole in the audio output that could violate the confidentiality of voting. On Friday, he told the AP that the issue had been resolved by TSE.

Additional tests will take place in August, when TSE will conduct something like an election day simulation. It is then that the presidential campaign will officially begin in Brazil, although Bolsonar and Silva are already holding rallies and events.

TSE will continue to conduct security tests up to 15 days before the election. Since 1996, there has been no evidence of massive vote rigging.

Wilson Vicente Ruger, a professor of computer technology at the University of São Paulo who works with TSE, told the AP that “today’s process is much safer than in the past.”

“There is no reason to fear that the election or the process itself could be rigged,” Ruger said.

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AP Jante journalists reported from Rio de Janeiro, and Mauricio Savarrese – from Sao Paulo.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.

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