If the ICs used in the EVMs are not manufactured in India, then countries like UK or USA are honour-bound to add undocumented software routines and components to the chips.
- If EVM software is hardcoded into the chips, then undocumented code pathways can be included at the chip manufacturer’s end at the behest of countries like US/UK. If the code is stored in flash memory, then code or the final tally can also be flashed or compromised by EC officials. It is unlikely that the EC has chosen flash memory-based chips. So, it must be the first case.
- The chips could have RFID elements that could leak vote count data to specially made RFID readers. After the Punjab elections, Modi seems to have received advance word about the votes cast. As a defensive measure, he asked his ministers to show details of tours they undertook to defend the demonetization exercise. This proves that someone was able to scan all the EVMs and realize that BJP-SAD combine had did not gather enough votes.
- Another more cumbersome tactic is to use EMI readers individual vote counts. This is unlikely to be case.
- RFID chips do not require power. The radio waves emitted by the scanners provide the power for the RFID chips to emit data. The same concept can also be used to write fresh data into the EVMs. The vote count can be changed by activating unknown code pathways and components in the chips. This is how BJP manages to win seats in places where Muslims are in majority.
When BJP was repeating “Modi Wave! Modi Wave! Modi Wave!”, they were really telling the truth. Similar to how a crystal radio receiver set uses power from AM/MW broadcast radio waves to power a small earphone speaker, RFID components in the EVM chips are activated by radio waves to hack and manipulate the vote count.
What the EC has done or EVM manufacturers such as ECIL or BEL have done is protect against physical tampering.
Most coin-operated phones in India can be hacked using tones generated by pressing certain numbers on a mobile phone. This does not require physical tampering of the machines.
When EC officials says the EVMs are tamper-proof, they are right. For these simple-minded government officials, hacking means physical tampering.
EC has challenged political parties to hack the machines under control conditions. This will not work. The EC should give each political party at least 10 sample EVMs. The political parties should be able to take the EVMs away with them. Hardware security professionals hired by political parties will then be able to study the machines at leisure – say for a month. After that, these professionals can demonstrate hackability on fresh EVMs under control conditions set by the EC. Or, at the least, they can point out unwanted components in the EVM chips, which the EC should be duty-bound to explain.