February 8, 2023

2023 Polls: Tech expert calls for stress test on BVAS before election

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By Juliet Umeh

In order to ensure that there is stronger security protection for data transmission before the February 25 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has been advised by a technology expert, the CEO of New Horizons Nigeria, Mr. Tim Akano, to conduct a stress test on Data-in-Motion or in Transit on Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, before the election proper.

Speaking on a topic: “Understanding privacy and online risk in the digital world today,” to mark 2023 World Data Privacy Day, organized by the Data and Knowledge Privacy Protection Initiative, he said February 25th, 2023 general election will be the first time in the history of the country that live data will be used to determine who will be the next president of the country.

He said: “The inferno that can burn us as a country is the use of live data that is vulnerable to attack. It is in the best interest of INEC in particular and Nigeria, in general, to pay more than casual attention to what we call the man in the middle attack, which hackers can exploit to intercept, modify, or retransmit election data while in motion or in transit.

“There is nothing more important in Nigeria today than the success of the February election, and we are a country of about 222 million, and nothing must go wrong because the entire West African coast, from Benin Republic to Togo to Ghana, does not have the infrastructure to sustain us.”

Akano, pointing out instances where conflicting results in other countries had led to untold bloodbaths, said between 2007 and 2008, Kenya witnessed an untold bloodbath arising from conflicting election results.

He said: “In 2010 and 2011, Mr. Devil himself took over the affairs of Ivory Coast when conflicting election results were announced.

“In 2016, Russia was alleged to have influenced the American presidential elections through technology, and in the recent Osun Governorship Tribunal judgment, three types of BVAS results on the same election were alleged to have been tendered and this should not because Maths is exact, absolute.

“According to the 2022 Securonix Threat, the report reveals that insiders were involved in 57 percent of data breaches and there are new technological solutions to this if INEC cares to prevent that.”

While commending INEC for the end-to-end encryption they have done for the technology, however, he called on the INEC Chairman on the need to urgently talk to some Nigerian Cyber security practitioners and appoint some devil’s advocate who will conduct a stress test on BVAS DIM (Data- in- Motion) before the wholesale adoption on February 25th, saying it is common practice for big companies such as Microsoft and Oracle to carry out test on new develop software by calling on strong hackers to test it and see if they can hack into it easily, and if they can, then they go back to their lab to ensure they work on it.

Akano, going forward, advised INEC to carry out an upgrade after the election to ensure that the issue of overvoting does not arise from BVAS by building in a technology that uses artificial intelligence, AI, which will alert you when over voting arises from the pooling unit.