Perfect. I was so excited to see election security on the agenda for this great event, because I already heard so much about it, but I never had the time to really dive into it and voting balloting elections. It's a complex thing. And I want to have some practical insights, which are of course, very European based and some food for thought. Why haven't we yet got rid, gotten rid of the paper process? And your comment has just nailed it because there is a lot of trust in paper. So generally elections are something that is at the heart of democracy. And it's one of the first duties that you have. So whether you like president Trump or you don't like him, or whether you like chancellor, Merkel or not, the only legal influence that you have is to go and vote. Let's look at some aspects to get directly into the topic.
So voting is always something direct. You actually go there. Okay. I'm not talking about Estonia voting via phone yet, but you, as I know, for more than 20 years now being voted in Germany, go there. And it's kind of secure because there are people that are watching the whole balloting process. It is equal for everybody. So when you are a ed citizen here in Germany and you are allowed to vote, everybody is allowed to go here, go there and have the same set of choice. And it's always a personal thing. So I cannot do that for my wife. She cannot go for me and nobody can go for its children when they are grown up. Of course, there is freedom of choice, which is very important because around the polling station, there is a certain band mile where there is no advertisements from any party and it is always at a public place.
So we are talking about schools here, for example. So you can just go there and watch. And even if you are like a tourist right now, or just coming here from another country, nobody would check whether you are actually going at this building, entering it and being there. You're not getting a paper maybe, but nevertheless, you can go there. It's public. And it's in a way secret because all the paper that you fill in is anonymous. So in this case, we can say this is secret and there is public post processing. So this is something that I just learned two years ago, that you can really go after the polling station, closes its doors at six o'clock in the evening and go there one minute later and watch the whole processing process. I didn't know that. Of course, you're not allowed to stand there with your phone and covering it on Facebook or like influencing anything.
But you are actually allowed to, to watch that people are doing everything in order. So some really important aspects, I guess. And let's look at how this looks at approximately every polling station that we see in Germany. So you have, and some very nice aspect like this non magic pen. So it's a document proof pen. It doesn't disappear after a while. This is why it's also tied to a string so that you're not pulling it away. You have those nice privacy enablers and the sealed box, which looks like a trash can. Nevertheless, if it is, if it is sealed, it perfectly makes up for it. Okay. Another perspective. Okay. When I prepared the slides, I wondered why, why there are windows where you could look through, but nevertheless, and this is what you get. It's no surprise seeing this when you go to the polling station, because a few weeks before you see that, like in the newspapers on now, on, on your news Porwal and so that when you go there, you instantly see, yeah, it's, it's the right thing.
And if somebody influences this, you would, you would, if you take a closer look, see what's happening. And that's the process right here. We can see with a crayon, also tied to a string, and then you make your mark and that's it. So this crayon thing seems funny, but nevertheless, if everybody's using the same pen, you get the deal kind of secure. And then when you drop the ballot into the box, some interesting details here. So this is covered when they're in use and we have this nice compatibility check with this color coding. So when there is an election where you have more than one paper, then every paper has a different color. I mean, this is pretty basic stuff, but it, it just works. As, as we just learned from the comment, people are so comfortable with it. And the whole friction that is there implies a certain kind of security.
What I really like is this thing in France, they have those see through containers. It's you must take a close look. It's it's like plexiglass box that opens with this count and drop mechanism. So like you pull the lever and it like increments by one number. So you can instantly see whether the ballots in the box match the number, or if somebody put something in there twice or something. So interesting to see that. And afterwards, and now you can see how hard it is to find pictures of a very non photographable process, which is from 1987 funny clothes that people are wearing. Nevertheless, it's from the public state archive. So I'm with the right to show that. And I guess it's still happening the same way, maybe with different jumpers and different ties. Nevertheless, people are counting everything. And afterwards you have your results. Let's look at that from a cybersecurity perspective.
Okay? So we have three steps here. We have this notification thing, like you get your thing in the mail. Hello, Mr. Schneider, mark, you're allowed to vote. And then you go to the polling station and there is a list and they check against it and then they check your ID and check your face and everything. So friction, friction, friction, and then you get your handouts. We can call that the access and authentication phase. And then we have the second stage with which is the actual ballot and the actual voting. So you have your pen and you make your mark. It's an anonymous thing. You have this paper thing going, everything is like covered up. And as we already said, it's a pen that is tied to a string and you drop it. Everything is supervised looks pretty good. And I would say that this is the creation of a valid data set phase.
And the third phase is when everything is being closed and analyzed. So they close it on performer. As I just said, open up again, they make a plausibility check, count everything, and sort out the votes that are not valid because you made two marks or marked the wrong way or used your own pen or whatever. And this is like the verification and analysis phase as an it professional. I would say if I would like to influence this first thing I would do is look at excess and authentication. And the second thing is creation of a valid data set, because I mean, this is where computer fraud works. It just works. The funny thing is if something goes wrong in elections in Europe and your researchers. So I did. And most of the time, it's in the verification analysis phase. So I found this to be quite interesting.
And you could put it in a nutshell and say, it's most of the time an inside job, people know each other people are maybe for the red or the green party. And they say that the black party is bad. And then they say, yeah, well, these two votes are not there. Or they look like they are not valid. I mean, they actually decide. Okay. And as, as I just learned that you are allowed to watch this process, how many people do not know that you're actually allowed to watch this process. And then when this result is hopefully not interfered and is transmitted, it's not done by an app or with a phone call and not with a fax machine, but it is done with the software. And that is super interesting when I wanted to find out which software systems are there. And I could talk for hours here because there are several, but there is one that is quite prominent because the chaos computer club hacked two years ago, just a quick one for everybody who doesn't know the chaos computer club, the chaos computer club are, it's a funny name, but they are the good guys.
So when they hack something and they found out about some issue, they don't just say, haha. They also say, and here is the remedy. So they always try to serve the community. And this is what they did. They took the software and said, yeah, well on Twitter, tweet is still alive. We hacked the German election software. The exploits are in GitHub. They are still by the way. And it's a total disaster. So
I instantly thought, wow, am I lucky or not? So I Googled this thing and found out screenshots exploits, media coverage since two years, as we have 2019 right now. And very interesting. So everybody must practically know about it. And I took their white paper, got through it and then looked at the software, which looks quite funny. And there's also a email video where they show how they hack it. It's also still online. There's some interesting stuff you can choose to not encrypt the transmission, which is not recommended. At least when you get the software at a polling station, then you can choose that the signature is valid. If you don't know what a signature is and you click on valid, it is always valid. And the transmission points on the web servers have interesting credentials like guest and test. So, and my personal highlight is the FTP module.
So you can also transfer the results with FTP. And there are two download links. Guess what they are for, there is one which is a few megabytes and there is one that fits fits on a floppy disc. So that's, that's the reason why they provide two different executables. So then I looked into the exploit with exploits, which are still online. So you can look at them on GitHub and I wanted to find out, okay, this software version 10 might already have been patched. I hope so because everybody knows about the problem. And we had the European elections coming. So I thought to myself, at least there is a 10.1 or patched or how do they do it and looked into it. And wasn't quite easy. But I found out, yes, they are not using the exact same version. They're using version nine. So I found some briefing papers and looked into it PC while nine zero.
So setting it's a state here in Germany, a Reinland palet in the Western part of Germany and they are using PC wall nine. And I went through Google and I found a lot of stuff. I could talk for hours. So nothing happened basically. And so I thought to myself, let's be honest. I mean, this paper thing, can't be true if we, if you have children and explain that to them, they won't believe you that this is like the actual benchmark of elections in Germany. So we need to understand why, why is there, I mean, in the us, I grew up with the fact that elections in the us have those machines and now 20 years later, I'm a grown up what's happening. So I digged into this whole machine voting thing and I found out, yeah, first voting machines are from the age when people did not have color photography.
Nice and very ITish. So if you like stuff like the dig guitar, PDP 11, then you like pictures like those. And I found out, okay, you had some stuff where you could make holes in paper. And then there is this very nice voting machine from NetApp. And it is in a, you can play with it in a museum, which is actually the hen off museum, sadly, it's not on my way to Berlin. Otherwise it definitely would have gotten there to play with it and have some, some photos taken. But, and they allowed me to, to use some photos from their press point. So this nice young lady is playing with this machine and you are having like a large touch pad. So to say, and depending on where you press, you just have to confirm what is coming up in the display and then you place.
So you vote. So if you put a paper on there with 10 touchpoints, then you have 10 different scenarios. At first site, this looks pretty basic, but why not? I mean, it looks like it works quite well, but there is one problem with it. The key for the device to program this thing and to open the case is the a 1, 2 6 machine key, which you can get on eBay, Amazon everywhere. It's like the standard key. Like when you go where you live and look at the telecommunications boxes that the corner of the street, they have, like those triangle locks, which is like a basing machine key. You can get it for $1 and then you can simply program this machine. The next problem is a little bit more technical. And I try to explain it easy for everybody. Who's not so much into electronics depending on where you press on this large touch pad.
The content of the display changes most obviously. And the controller of this display is sending out signals that are not covered. So they are going out of the room and the guy outside of the room could always see which frequency is coming up. If somebody is pressing. So you could count the different votes, even if you would not know which party from outside of the building, which makes the whole election invalid. So this is not a prototype. They actually used it. And they, they, they had it in Germany and they had it in the Netherlands. And I hope, I hope that I'm pronouncing it correctly. The movement, the public movement in the Netherlands is called VRO steam computers need, which means we do not trust voting machines. So it's a public VO. It's a public movement against those voting computers and people don't like them because they are practically not secure.
And there is a very, very nice white paper. So when you have a long way home, you can dig into it. And they really like the chaos computer club showed what are the problems? And it's really, really interesting to see. So this is why they got banned. And not only there, here in Germany since 2010 voting with machines and, and not having a paper based ballot is forbidden by the highest state court since 2010. So all the countries that you can see here that are highlighted in red, do not allow voting with Mach with machines and only a few allowed to use machines to vote. So this is, this is a major international problem that is going on. And well, then I thought to myself, let's be a little more 19 ish, okay. Let's not talk about stuff that happened. Let's talk about stuff that is happening right now.
And at least in, in my field of expertise, people are talking a lot about distributed ledger, blockchain and all that stuff. That is like the revolution of keeping safe, staying safe and, and covering, covering sensitive data. So I looked into it and thought to myself, well, there must be a lot of people discussing blockchain as a system to have true verifiable votes that you cannot alter. And there are, but there are many problems with it. So first what we would need is electronic ID that actually works. Yes. In Germany, we have those plastic cards, but though they were hacked by some student before they were publicly available. So everybody I know who is getting such a plastic card is telling the nice person at the desk, please deactivate the electronic part. So you cannot use it. And distributed ledger as its name already says needs some distribution.
So if the German government would go ahead and say, yes, we have one part of the blockchain in Berlin and one part in Hamburg. And one part in Munich, I don't know if this is like unleashing the power of distributed ledger yet. And the friction that we have just been talking about regarding all this paper, balloting to normal people in this country, this is security. Of course, for us, this might be different, but it is a secure feeling. People are standing there checking on stuff. And if you look on, if you look at security of a bios, which is the principle of hiding stuff, this is how those software systems and voting machines are actually working. They try to hide the way that they are working and think that this is secure and it's actually the head and the sand of an ostrich approach or your key under the doormat to be secure.
The Koff principle told us that everything needs to be known, but the key. So it's the other way around and open source has told us too. So there is always something to hide. So if something is not visible and as we see with this election software, most likely there is an issue. And again, voter impersonation would love to be unseen because if you actually need to go somewhere, I'm not so sure if this is a practical approach. And of course, distributed ledger based company products. I am not so sure. We just heard that in the us, like two companies are building the software. I, I'm not so sure about that kind of security. And one month ago, I just went off to the KuppingerCole summit in Washington. We had the heck of a very high quality in Germany and they got hacked and shut. They actually had an emote attack.
Okay. So ransomware and they shut down their it systems and said, yes, please send us fax. Okay, because we are not getting into our emails anymore. So generally more tech doesn't bring us more trust in public government. It systems, systems are hacked. As we've just seen. In this example, the Bunda stock has been hacked two times in the last four or five years. And a friend of mine, a coworker of mine exchanged his driver's license from a paper based driver's license to a plastic card. And guess what happened? He got this plastic card and on the plastic card, he has been a motorcycle driver. So he said, excuse me, I need to go to the police station. He went to the police station and at the police station, they said, yeah, I can't do anything about the fact that you are now a legal motorcycle rider, even though you have never acquired this license.
But if you are a good boy, then you are simply taking lessons and have fun. That's what he did. He could not revoke his driver license because it would've been his total driver's license. So he's not trusting this plastical thing. So does that mean that analog is really more secure and that we should simply leave everything that as it is? I don't think so. Nevertheless, we need to understand what's going on in the heads of the people that are using it in, in the mass of, of, of all people in the country. If we would even think about influencing postal voting, which is in a way not a public process, you would have to go into like an impossible mission of infiltrating the postal system. You would have such a small impact, like, like one or two votes, if you are a family. I, I'm not really sure if you would really manage to really build up that kind of an inside job and impersonating local voting.
Even if you have a twin, I mean, what's the impact altering one vote. I mean, in a city of Munich or Berlin, I guess there are hundred of polling stations. You would simply like check it for 1, 1, 1, 1 fragment of a percent. So it, it just doesn't work. It's not efficient prone to failure. You will be seeing minimal impact. And the centralized public advantage is what seems to be really dominant as we are talking about going digital, because the perception is simply that a local area is not a good crime scene. People are watching it, maybe at our village, at least 400 people. The mayor will look at everything that is happening. This ID checking against the list that the state has printed is considered secure and inside jobs already said they only have so much little impact. So some food for thought to leave you with this people watching over something creates trust and implies a secure feeling.
And the question is, how can we transport that into a digital age? We have the fact that government, it systems, at least here in Germany are simply not considered secure because they fail to often or are hacked. And it's always a big pity because trust is always damaged even more. And even in Estonia, you must imagine Estonia is like the uni card of Europe. When it comes to digitization, they have electronic ID. And just like in Sweden, everybody's paying with this phone. Everything is super digital. If you research it, if you have time, they really have issues with e-voting because voter impersonation by copying keys is really, really easy. And I'm sure that the challenges won't stop and that by understanding what is going on in the heads of the people, we will define better solutions and hopefully get a lot of contracts with the government to help them to get all their access management and voter impersonation issues done when they are going to digital. Thank you very much. And I hope that there will be some questions.