Hackers spoil Anoto election plans

Plans to use digital pens from Swedish company Anoto in German elections have been axed after hackers claimed to have breached the pens' security system.

The pens were to have been used for voting by 1.2 million voters in parliamentary elections in Hamburg. But the idea was dropped after hacker organization Chaos Computer Club (CCC) released a video claiming that the voting system could be hacked using basic computer equipment.

“There are a number of security problems with Anoto’s system,” said CCC’s Dirk Engling.

“The greatest risk is the pen’s docking station in the polling both, as you can use that to access the computer’s USB-port.” Engling added.

Anoto’s research chief Petter Ericson denied that the hackers had breached security.

“The hackers used a consumer product which was not the same as the one to have been used in the election,” he said. Anoto also pointed out that paper voting slips were retained under their system.

Anoto’s marketing director, Ebba Åsly Fåhraeus, said that politicians in Hamburg had dropped the idea in order to avoid a media debate. But, she added, she hoped the pen could be used in future elections, including in the United States.

Anders Frick