In what will be the biggest electronic voting pilot in Europe, over 1.4 million people in 17 English local authorities will be able to vote via the internet, touch-tone telephone, text messaging, interactive TV or at public kiosks.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has said the new election processes are accessible worldwide, increasing the potential number of attacks dramatically. A government document added: 'By its very nature, the election process is an attractive target for malicious actions. An online voting system would need to win public confidence, which could easily be undermined by an election-day horror story.'
Echelon will be evaluating the effectiveness of the technology for accuracy, reliability, robustness, as well as security. Echelon's consultants will be working to a set of principal security controls, which include ensuring voter authenticity and anonymity, data confidentiality and integrity; as well as making sure the system cannot be reconfigured during operation and is protected against denial of service attacks.
Bill Van-Orden, Echelon Consulting's business development manager, said the e-voting contract was a major coup for Echelon, won against strong opposition. It would further establish the company's leading presence within the public sector.
'The requirements of this work will be technically demanding and we have a very tight time frame to work in. But, with the largest number of government-approved consultants at our disposal, we can deliver the security evaluation required.'
Chairman of the L ocal Government Association, Jeremy Beecham, said: 'Testing new approaches lies at the heart of the strategy to modernise the electoral arrangements and provides an opportunity to ensure that the fundamentals of our democratic system - secrecy and security - are maintained.'
The government aims to hold an e-enabled general election some time after 2006.
Click herefor further information on the security requirements.
Echelon Consulting Ltd was established in 1993 to provide high quality information security consultancy services to central government, the Ministry of Defence, research organisations, commercial companies, the finance sector and the computer industry. Echelon is recognised by the government's e-Envoy Office as the largest independent security company in the UK.