Hired ‘hackers’ fail to disrupt Brazil voting system


BRASILIA, Brazil — More than 20 would-be hackers gathered in the Brazilian electoral authority’s headquarters in the capital last week. Their mission: infiltrate the nation’s voting system ahead of a race in October.

Their three-day battery of attempted assaults ended Friday and was part of planned testing that happens every election year, usually proceeding without incident or drawing any attention. But with President Jair Bolsonaro continuously sowing doubt about the system’s reliability, the test took on an outsized significance as the electoral authority, known as the TSE, seeks to shore up confidence in the upcoming general elections.

Analysts and members of the TSE said the test’s results were more encouraging than ever. All the experts attempting to disrupt the system — among them federal police agents and university professors in engineering, information technology, data security and computer science — had failed.

“No attack managed to alter the destination of a vote in the electronic ballot,” Julio Valente da Costa, the TSE’s secretary of information technology, told reporters in an interview afterward.

“The importance of this test is for us to rest assured, at least about all the technology and computing components for the elections.”

When Bolsonaro won the presidential race four years ago, he claimed he had actually secured victory in the first round, not the runoff weeks later.

The former army captain has repeatedly made accusations the voting system used for three decades is vulnerable, and at times said he possesses proof fraud occurred, but has never presented any evidence.

Last year, Bolsonaro suggested the election could be canceled unless a voting reform was passed in Congress, but the proposed constitutional change did not garner enough votes.

Analysts and politicians have expressed worry that far-right Bolsonaro, who is trailing leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in all early polls, is laying the groundwork to follow the lead of his ally, former U.S. President Donald Trump, and reject election results.

The TSE has gone to great lengths to bring more openness to the electoral process, even inviting the armed forces to sit on its transparency…

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