BVR computer system tamper-proof: Zec

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has said data collected during electronic voter registration will be stored in tamper-proof flash drives before the information is fed into a central data base which is hack-proof.

This comes after the opposition has raised fears that there are inadequate security measures  to guard against unauthorised access to the voter register database.

Zec is compiling a new voter register ahead of presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections next year, a mammoth task which is key to ensuring the vote is more credible than past polls.

The electoral commission is looking to register seven million voters through electronic voter registration kits, including laptop computers, fingerprint scanners, cameras and printers.

Zec commissioner Qhubani Moyo told the Daily News  on the sidelines of Zec media workshop yesterday that the process is very secure from the time of registration to the storage.

“(First) the information is collected from the field and it saved into tamper-proof flash drives. The machines themselves are embedded with USB storage as backup storage,” he said.

A USB is a plug-and-play portable storage device that uses flash memory and is lightweight enough to attach to a keychain.

“The USBs are manually transported to a consolidated server where information will be fed with all the data from all the registration centres.

“All the information will be consolidated into one server which is located at Zec offices (in Harare).

“At this server, we will use the Central Automated Finger Identification System (AFIS) which will weed out people who have registered more than once, to leave us with a clean voters’ roll. The clean data will be stored in the final server at our head office,” Moyo said.

He said the server is protected with numerous passwords and other security measures which “I cannot make public.”

This comes as Chinese firm, Laxton Group Limited — which won the $4m tender to supply biometric voter registration (BVR) kits for registering voters ahead of the crucial 2018 general elections — highlighted in leaked documents that there was glaring lack of tangible protection mechanisms, leaving the BVR storage systems vulnerable to fraud.

The State Procurement Board settled for Laxton Group after it proposed a $3,9 million budget to supply the BVR kits.

A leaked risk report by Laxton Group Limited’s chief legal officer Paul Bellin raised grave concerns over the security of the voter registration Data Centre, and said any breach could dent its image.

“This is a highly alarming risk. Zec does not appear to have this infrastructure in place and when Laxton raised this issue, it fell on deaf ears.

“It was also made clear that Zec intends using an alternative company to provide the central system, which was even more alarming,” reads the leaked report to Laxton’s board of directors and security chiefs in Zimbabwe.

There are fears Israeli company, Nikuv Projects International, could be called in to handle the voter database, and was likely to use the central registry database at the Registrar General’s Office, which will contain all person-identifying biometrics information in the country.

Laxton said there must be elaborate security measures in place to prevent or detect tampering that risks soiling its credibility.

“If issues arise, it is virtually impossible to know who is accountable. With multiple parties handling the system, then who is responsible if an issue arises? It will make it too easy to point fingers at each other,” the Laxton Group report said.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC claims the Registrar General’s Office paid the controversial Israeli-based company, Nikuv Projects International, over $10 million to assist Zanu PF rig the July 31, 2013 polls, an allegation strenuously denied by the shadowy firm, the ruling party and Zec.

Asked how the system will prevent multiple registrations, Moyo told the Daily News: “It is not possible to flush them out instantly because the kits we are using are not linked.

“It can only flush you if you try to register at the same machine. But when you go to two stations, it can only be flashed out when we are doing the de-duplication exercise to say this person is registering for a second time.” Zec has purchased 3 000 BVR kits and have since taken delivery of 400 BVR kits with the remaining 2 600 BVR kits expected to arrive in the country in mid-October.

So far the commission has established 63 registration centres but says a total of 10 000 voter registration centres will be established across the country when the rest of the kits arrive in October.

Comments (3)

saka ndichanoregister rwepiri

g40 - 27 September 2017

What temper proof when those who are compiling the data are all zanu and cio they will just get all the information give to their party bcoz they know Makarau is very weak as seen in 2013 when zanu used unregistered children under age to vote in rural areas including letting zanu supporters to vote many times . we have no confidence with this thing zec . people are being asked many stupid questions which end up turning them off and stop trying to register as voters opposition please monitor ZEC before its too late

Diibulaanyika - 27 September 2017

No security system in the world is tamper proof. There is always a way to get in.

Rasta! - 27 September 2017

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