Against the backdrop of concerns of cyber-meddling in elections, the Election Commission (EC) has initiated a slew of measures to ensure the poll process is not affected in any way. The Commission has asked all States and Union territories to publish electoral rolls only in image Portable Document Format (PDF) and CAPTCHA formats to ensure that no one can access the electoral data, except in 'read-only' files. The poll watchdog has also appointed chief information security officer at the central level and a cyber-security nodal officer in every state even as it has decided to conduct a third-party security audit of all poll-related applications and websites.
Sources in the EC said that the image PDF format (non editable of electoral rolls with only details and without photograph of electors) blocks the search option in the electoral rolls, while CAPTCHA (containing alphabet, numeral and special character) blocks readers from extracting and downloading the data. This also prohibits use of personal devices such as smart-phones and personal email Intrusion Detection System (IDs) for communication of protected information.
Sources said that EC's website has been linked with secure socket layer or SSL, which is a standard security protocol in order to keep an internet connection secure by encrypting any crucial information sent between one's browser and the website.
"The EC is more concerned about electoral roll management, result dissemination, safety and security of EV-VVPAT, growing dependence on digital technology and use of the internet for voter registration," sources said.
"The Commission has come out with cyber security regulations for its officer's online behavior. Under the new rules, electoral roll information can be provided to political parties and the public only in a non-editable format to curb the possibility of manipulation," sources added. Since June, EC has held several workshops to help train officers in cyber hygiene.
To ensure proper safety and security, the EC has made it clear that private security guards, civil defence or home guards should not be deployed to guard/protection of EVM-VVPAT.
India was ranked among the top five countries to be affected by cybercrime, according to a report by online security firm "Symantec Corp".