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French researcher hacks into Moscow’s new e-voting system

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A French researcher has exposed a security breach in an electronic voting system to be used in next month’s municipal elections in Moscow, potentially giving hackers access to voters’ choices.

The University of Lorraine and France’s CNRS research institute said this week the cryptographer had taken up a challenge set by Echo of Moscow radio to test the system being rolled out for the vote.

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“Less than a month before Moscow tries online voting for electing the city’s new parliament, a French cryptographer has just exposed a security breach for the protocol being tested,” the two institutions said in a statement.

The researcher, Pierrick Gaudry, was able to crack into the source code being published daily as part of a public test since late July.

Gaudry needed only 20 minutes to break the encryption code, or “private key”, that is supposed to protect voters’ identities and choices. He used a standard computer and widely available free software.

“According to him, a hacker would have been able to get this private key in just 10 minutes,” they said.

“In the worst-case scenario, the votes of all the voters using this system would be revealed to anyone as soon as they cast their vote,” Gaudry wrote of his findings in a research paper posted online.

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Since mid-July, Moscow has seen a wave of rallies drawing tens of thousands onto the streets after opposition figures were barred from standing in the elections to Moscow’s city parliament on September 8.

The online voting system, available through the City Hall website, requires passport information, home address and other sensitive information, and uses text message verification.

Officials say the system testing won’t be complete until next week, just days ahead of the election.

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Since the publication of Gaudry’s paper on August 14, Moscow authorities have said the encryption code has been made more complex, and will be divided into seven distinct parts kept separate until voting ends.

The editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow, Alexey Venediktov, announced on his Telegram channel Tuesday that he had given Gaudry a prize of one million rubles ($15,000). Other awards would be offered to anyone else who exposed breaches in the system.

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US executes first federal prisoner since 2003, relatives of man’s victims disavow execution

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The federal government on Tuesday carried out its first execution in almost two decades, killing by lethal injection a man convicted of murdering an Arkansas family in a 1990s plot to build a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.

The execution of Daniel Lewis Lee came over the objection of the victims’ relatives and following days of legal wrangling and delays.

Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma, professed his innocence just before he was executed at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“I didn’t do it," Lee said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer.”

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California man charged with running over Black dad after son calls for help in racist attack

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A California man was arrested after running over a Black father during a racist attack in a hotel parking lot.

Dennis Aaron Wyman allegedly hurled racial slurs against a small group of Black young adults late June 29 at the Staybridge Suites in Torrance, and one 23-year-old called his father -- who was working as an armed security guard nearby -- as tensions grew during the encounter, reported the Daily Breeze.

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Stolen Banksy returned to France from Italy

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An homage to the victims of the 2015 Paris attacks by street artist Banksy was returned to France on Tuesday after the stolen work was found in Italy.

The image of a young girl in mourning was painted with stencil and white paint on an emergency door of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris where Islamic State gunmen killed 90 people nearly five years ago.

It was found in the attic of an abandoned farmhouse in the eastern Italian region of Abruzzo last month.

The chief prosecutor of Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, and the head of Italy's police in charge of cultural heritage handed over the work to France's ambassador Christian Masset at a Bastille Day ceremony.

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