The operators of Russia’s blockchain voting system say their platform successfully repelled a hacking attack in the nation’s referendum on constitutional reform.
Blockchain voting is being piloted in the cities of Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod, and began on June 25. Citizens in both cities were required to pre-register their interest in casting blockchain votes, with a total of around 1 million in the capital signing up to the platform. This allows them to cast votes via their smartphones.
However, Tass reports that Moscow’s smart government chief stated that “an attempt was made to attack the blockchain through an observer node at 21:12 Moscow time on June 27.”
The official added that the network had been placed into a “heightened security mode,” but added,
“There was no interruption in voting. All votes have been safely […] recorded on the blockchain. After IT security experts carry out necessary work, access to the observer node will be restored as normal.”
The operators did not speak about the nature of the attack, nor did they indicate who might have been behind it.
Referendum voting continues, with blockchain voting concluding tomorrow. Tass reports as well as the 1 million voters in the Russian capital who have registered to use the blockchain platform, some 140,000 residents of Nizhniy Novgorod have also signed up. The turnout as per June 27 was 75%, with a total of 879,654 blockchain votes cast.
However, media outlets have reported teething problems. The system crashed briefly after launch, struggling to deal with a larger-then-expected influx of votes. And one Open Media Telegram post claimed that a large number of votes initially failed to register on the system – although the operators claim that these problems have since been resolved.
A paper ballot will be conducted on July 1, with the result determining whether President Vladimir Putin may bid to extend his leadership beyond 2022.