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3 Universities Recognized for Proposals to Use Blockchain to Secure Digital Voting Systems

Cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab today recognized three universities for their work on using blockchain technology to secure digital voting systems. As part of the 2016 Cybersecurity Case Study Competition, the participants were tasked with designing blockchain-compliant systems to address specific security challenges, such as voter privacy, undecided voters and voter fraud.

A total of 19 teams from universities across the United States and United Kingdom provided written and video submissions detailing their proposals. Entries were judged by a panel of Kaspersky Lab experts. The top three proposals, as described by a company statement:

  1. Grand prize ($10,000) winner: New York University. The university's submission "proposed the usage of a 'permissioned blockchain' configuration, in which a central authority admits voting machines to the network prior to the start of the election, followed by voting machines acting autonomously to build a public, distributed ledger of votes. In addition to addressing threats to the integrity of the system, NYU's plan allows voters to tell if their individual vote was counted."
  2. Second place ($5,000) winner: University Of Maryland, College Park's Maryland Cybersecurity Center. The center proposed "a solution rooted in global public keys that encrypt ballots and provide voter receipts using randomly generated numbers. The university's proposal also features cryptographic tree data structures that allow citizens to check if their vote was counted."
  3. Third place ($3,000) winner: Newcastle University. The institution proposed "a solution rooted in three protocols: the Open Vote Network, DRE-i and DRE-ip."

"The competition was very interesting and I was very impressed with the submissions," said Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, in a press release. "There was a lot of good work there! The challenges of cybersecurity mean the next generation of experts face a changing frontier — there will be plenty of things to work on and securing digital voting systems for national elections is just one example. If cybercriminals exploited one small vulnerability, it could potentially change the course of a nation's history, and these young scholars are bringing us one step closer to making secure digital voting a reality."

Additional information on the competition and winners can be found on The Economist's Which MBA? site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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