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Voting station in Beit Shean
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Voter in Tel Aviv
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Did hackers cause Likud primaries malfunction?
Company operating computerized voting system says hackers are to blame for disruptions, but one expert says Likud's need to cut costs is at fault
With the Likud primary elections entering their second day, expert continued to ponder what had caused the malfunction that crippled the computerized voting system for hours on Sunday.

 

The Aman Company, a veteran firm that was put in charge of the computerized voting project, told Yedioth Ahronoth that a cyberattack was what caused the disruptions, but top officials in the field questioned the assertion.

 

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"While the timing was opportune for hackers seeking to carry out an attack, there are many viable tools that can protect the systems," one source said. "You just have to plan ahead of time."


תקלה ביום הגורלי  (צילום: מוטי קמחי)

Malfunctioning system (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

 

Another source familiar with the issue said that a cyberattack was unlikely in this case because the elections were run on an internal network. It was more plausible that the communication between the voting stations and the central server had broken down.

 

According to the source, the malfunction stemmed from insufficient preparation for the project. The company began working on the project only weeks ago – an insufficient amount of time to prepare for such an undertaking.

 

"Some of the tests were done at the very last moment," the source said.

 

The Aman Company said that it had made several tests and ran successful pilot programs prior to the primaries.

 

Cutting costs

Nevertheless, the software – which was developed by Yayasoft – appears to have never been tried in a large-scale project like the one mounted by the Likud, whose computerized election is considered the largest event of its kind to be held in Israel. Some 1,300 voting stations have been installed in 130 sites, demanding massive amounts information to be transferred simultaneously.

 

Gilad Rabinovich, owner and CEO of the consulting firm ITstrategy and an expert in the field, said that the primary problem with these kinds of projects is the client's desire to cut costs, which makes the service providers cut on quality. The Aman Company won the contract after providing a price lower by NIS 2-3 million than the competing firm.

 

"The malfunctions stem from compromises," he said. "It's typical of computerized projects, but in this case it's especially critical because when one thing goes wrong a catastrophe happens.

 

"There is no time to fix the problem," he said.

 

The Likud central election committee decided on Sunday to extend voting in the primaries by another day. Registered voters will be able to cast their ballots in 50 of the 132 polling stations between 11 am and 9 pm on Monday. The decision was based on a legal opinion.

 

Earlier on Sunday, the party decided to leave polling stations open until midnight due to the breakdown in the computer systems. As of 5 pm, computers were functioning again. Some 51.6% of Likud voters had cast their ballots by the end of Sunday.

 

 

 

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