E-voting vendor hit by hacker

VoteHere Inc., one of the companies at the center of the controversy over secure electronic voting, has had its security breached by a "politically motivated" hacker, according to company officials.

The attack happened in October, but the FBI and other law enforcement agencies investigating the break-in asked the company to keep quiet about it until now.

The identity of the suspected hacker is known, according to a company spokesperson, but no arrests have been made.

The attack came during a brief period when VoteHere's computer systems were vulnerable because of a security patch that had not yet been applied, said spokeswoman Stacey Fields. However, the hacker did not get any information that would compromise the company's software products, she added.

"All the FBI will allow us to say is that the break-in allowed access to internal company documents," she said.

VoteHere, headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., provides encryption products that verify that a vote has been made by the person who is supposed to be casting it and keep that vote secure from alteration and fraud after it has been made. The company also provides software used in digital voting machines.

However, the safety and accuracy of these machines has been challenged by various groups, some of whom claim that software such as that produced by VoteHere has not been sufficiently examined by outside experts to confirm that digital voting can be used in elections with any confidence.

The company suspects that the attack was politically motivated because the name of the alleged hacker has appeared frequently on Web sites opposed to digital voting, Fields said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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