“Our server is continuously being attacked”: Elections Commissioner

The Elections Commission (EC) has said its internet server is currently facing continuous attacks from hackers working both within the country and from outside.

In an interview given to local newspaper Haveeru, EC Chair Fuad Thaufeek dismissed rumours that both the website and its server had been hacked, but acknowledged the commission had continuously come under attack from hackers.

“Our server is continuously being attacked by hackers from both the Maldives and outside. For that reason, our IT team is continuously monitoring the server and blocking these attacks round the clock.  I assure that our data is still safe and protected. There are no imminent threats of a security breach,” Fuad told Haveeru.

The EC Chair also noted that similar attacks had previously been launched against the commission’s internet servers. However, during previous attack attempts, Thoufeek admitted that hackers were able to access their website but had done little damage, other than putting an image on the website.

He stressed that the data stored at the commission’s server was safe after hearing individuals had posted a document allegedly belonging to the commission’s server which was later discovered to be a fake.

Ahead of the presidential election scheduled to take place on September 7, Thoufeek said that the EC’s members had discussed the attacks with the police.

The announcement comes at a time when both the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhoree Party (JP) have expressed concern over Indian IT experts working with the commission.

Both the parties previously requested their IT experts be allowed to assess the server but the commission refused to grant permission, claiming that it would undermine the organisation’s credibility.

“We explained to [the parties] that the Indian team would not be working on systems being used for the upcoming presidential election. They will instead be providing assistance to help develop a program for future elections,”  Thoufeek told Minivan News previously.

The commission previously claimed that it had initially sought local IT professionals for the project, but that it had not been possible to find Maldivians with either the programming skills required for the project, or those willing to work within the budget assigned for the project.

“Firms presently operating in Male’ demanded much higher rates to oversee the project,” he said.

Both PPM and JP had challenged the possibility of holding free and fair elections scheduled for September 7 this year if foreigners could access the electoral database and other systems. However, the EC has moved to dismiss any fears, adding that only local EC staff had access to sensitive information and the commission’s security systems.

Meanwhile, the commission revealed Saturday (August 17) to local media that 38 people’s names had been fraudulently re-registered to vote outside of their home towns in next month’s presidential poll.

The Elections Commission had previously given a one month time frame for re-registration of voters – necessary for those intending to vote at a polling station other than that listed with the commission, such as a worker based on a resort island and those currently residing abroad.

During the time frame, the commission claimed that more than 61,000 people had re-registered with the commission.

Statistics released by the commission suggests that 240,302 people are eligible to cast their vote with 31,008 new voters in the upcoming presidential elections.