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Microsoft Unveils Software for Secure, Verifiable Voting

The ElectionGuard SDK will be available through GitHub beginning this summer

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Logo of Microsoft outside it's office. Pixabay

In a bid to help countries ensure secure and verifiable voting, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced “ElectionGuard” — a free open-source software development kit (SDK).

“ElectionGuard” will enable end-to-end verification of elections, open results to third-party organisations for secure validation, and allow individual voters to confirm their votes were correctly counted, announced Nadella during the keynote at Microsoft Build developer conference here on Monday.

“‘ElectionGuard’ will make voting secure, more accessible, and more efficient anywhere it’s used in the US or in democratic nations around the world,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust.

Developed with Galois, “ElectionGuard” will be available starting this summer to election officials and election technology suppliers who can incorporate the technology into voting systems.

“We currently have partnerships with election technology suppliers responsible for more than half of the voting machines sold in the US,” Burt added.

“ElectionGuard” is not intended to replace paper ballots but rather to supplement and improve systems that rely on them, and it is not designed to support internet voting.

“ElectionGuard” is verifiable, allowing voters and third-party organisations to verify election results.

It is also secure, auditable and open source — free and flexible with the ability to be used with off-the-shelf hardware.

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

“ElectionGuard” provides each voter a tracker with a unique code that can be used to follow an encrypted version of the vote through the entire election process via a web portal provided by election authorities.

During the process of vote-casting, voters have an optional step that allows them to confirm that their trackers and encrypted votes accurately reflect their selections.

But once a vote is cast, neither the tracker nor any data provided through the web portal can be used to reveal the contents of the vote.

After the election is complete, the tracker codes can be used by voters to confirm that their votes were not altered or tampered with and that they were properly counted, said Microsoft.

Also Read- Social Media Giant Facebook Updates Video Ranking System

Voters, candidates, news media and any observers can run verifiers of their own or downloaded from sources of their choosing to confirm tabulations are as reported.

On the security front, “ElectionGuard” uses something called homomorphic encryption – which enables mathematical procedures a” like counting – to be done with fully encrypted data.

The ElectionGuard SDK will be available through GitHub beginning this summer. (IANS)

Next Story

Microsoft Knockout: Why AWS CEO Must not Lose His Cool

Currently, 7,000 government agencies, 10,000 academic institutions and 25,000 nonprofits are using various AWS services worldwide

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Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

BY NISHANT ARORA

As the CEO of a $36 billion enterprise that leads the global infrastructure Cloud market with over 175 services — more than any other Cloud vendor — Andy Jassy is deeply hurt at the Microsoft’s $10 billion Pentagon Cloud win and is leaving no stone unturned to criticise the company, despite knowing the fact that a “significant political interference” killed the chances of Amazon Web Services (AWS) which was a favourite to seal the deal.

At the AWS “re: Invent” conference attended by over 60,000 people in Las Vegas last week, Jassy went after the Satya Nadella-run company at several occasions, criticising its licensing practices and making a pitch for open-source Linux operating system over Windows.

Limiting the attack on its old Cloud rival Oracle in just one slide during his keynote presentation, Jassy’s target was Microsoft all over, and the aim was to begin strides towards $3.7 trillion enterprise IT market where Microsoft has a lion’s share.

“If you look at Windows, 57 per cent of Windows in the Cloud runs on AWS operating system rather than Azure. You see this return to the ways of old from Microsoft where they’re not prioritising what matters to you guys, the customers. People are sick and tired of being pawns in this game,” said the AWS CEO.

Surprisingly, Jassy did not attack Microsoft Azure directly but its Windows and SQL Server software in the Cloud using existing licenses.

Later in the news conference, he again touched upon the subject and slammed Microsoft, this time clearly citing “significant political interference” in the US government’s decision to award the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure) contract to Microsoft.

If we look at the facts, there is not stopping Windows.

More than four years after its release, Windows 10 has passed 50 per cent in market share, meaning every other desktop computer is now running Microsoft’s latest operating system.

Windows (including older versions) has a massive 87.8 per cent global share while Linux has a poor 1.72 per cent market share worldwide. Mac OS has over 10 per cent market share globally.

Microsoft has revealed that there were more than 900 million devices running on Windows 10 and the company is edging closer to its 1 billion mark by 2020.

Riding on its commercial Cloud and Office business, Microsoft posted $33.1 billion in revenue with $10.7 billion in net income (an increase of 21 per cent) for its first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

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AWS is the Cloud arm of retail giant Amazon. Pixabay

Revenue in Intelligent Cloud was $10.8 billion and increased 27 per cent. Server products and cloud services revenue increased 30 per cent, driven by Azure revenue growth of 59 per cent.

Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 13 per cent, driven by Office 365 Commercial revenue growth of 25 per cent.

On the other hand, Jassy thinks that in 2020, about 80 per cent of the workloads deployed will be Linux workloads.

“We see a lot of monetisation decisions around moving Windows to Linux. And this has been happening for several years now. There’s such a vibrant community around Linux and we’re finding that all the features and all the security things happen much quicker than with OS like Windows,” Jassy told the gathering.

The truth is: His public rant against Microsoft’s enterprise IT business does not hold good as it is way ahead in this business than AWS.

AWS’s forte is Cloud and related domains where Microsoft Azure is fast growing.

AWS now spans 69 Availability Zones within 22 geographic regions around the world and has announced plans for 13 more Availability Zones and four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, South Africa and Spain.

According to Gartner’s Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market segment share globally, AWS is far ahead in this segment with 47.8 per cent share, followed by Microsoft at 15.5 per cent, Alibaba at 7.7 per cent and Google at a mere 4 per cent.

Also Read: Upcoming iPhone SE 2 Likely to be Called as ‘iPhone 9’

Currently, 7,000 government agencies, 10,000 academic institutions and 25,000 nonprofits are using various AWS services worldwide.

Jassy just needs to be doing where he is good at: Reinventing new Cloud strategies.

Entering OS or other business verticals where Microsoft is a distinguished leader won’t serve any purpose, that too because one big Cloud deal has been lost owing to “a sitting US President who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company” and not because Microsoft was a better option than AWS. (IANS)