DPI Calendar

Back to Listing

DPI - UIC CS Software Analysis Seminar: Trust and Trustworthiness of Voting Systems

Event Type
Discovery Partners Institute
Zoom Video Conference
Nov 6, 2020   11:00 am  
Peter Y A Ryan, full Professor of Applied Security, University of Luxembourg
Zoom Video Conference Link


Democracy is a defining feature of civilised societies, but it is delicate and vulnerable. In recent years, we have seen the threats to democratic processes brought into sharp relief, and, arguably, we have witnessed some spectacular failures of democracy.  The increasing digitisation of democracy brings with it the potential to enrich it but also a raft of novel and poorly understood attack vectors. 


In this talk Dr. Ryan will discuss attempts by the information security and crypto communities to address the challenge making elections secure. It is essential that an election deliver not only the correct outcome, but also sufficient evidence to demonstrate to all, especially the losers, that it is the correct outcome. And of course, all this must be achieved without undermining ballot privacy or coercion resistance.   Furthermore, it is essential that any solution be not only technically valid but also supremely usable and acceptable to all stakeholders. 


Most approaches to voter-verifiable elections involve the voter checking the presence of an encryption of her vote on a secure bulletin board (public ledger) in the input to the (verifiable) tabulation process. In this talk, by contrast, Dr. Ryan will outline a new voter-verification scheme, Selene, that allows each voter to confirm that her vote is correctly counted in an intuitive, transparent fashion: by identifying the vote in plaintext in the tally via a private, deniable tracker. The hope is that this will provide not only a trustworthy system but also one that will inspire the trust of all stakeholders.



Peter Y A Ryan is full Professor of Applied Security at the University of Luxembourg since Feb 2009. Since joining the University of Luxembourg he has grown the APSIA (Applied Security and Information Assurance) group that is now around 20 strong. He has around 25 years of experience in cryptography, information assurance and formal verification. He pioneered the application of process calculi to modelling and analysis of secure systems, firstly the characterization of non-interference and later to the analysis of crypto protocols. He initiated and led the “Modelling and Analysis of Security Protocols” project, in collaboration with researchers in Oxford an Royal Holloway, that pioneered the application of process algebra (CSP) and model-checking tools (FDR) to the analysis of security protocols. 


He has published extensively on cryptography, cryptographic protocols, security policies, mathematical models of computer security and, most recently, voter-verifiable election systems. He is the (co-)creator of several innovative, verifiable voting schemes: Prêt à Voter, Pretty Good Democracy, vVote system (based on Prêt à Voter that was used successfully in Victoria State in November 2015), Caveat Coercitor, Selene and Electryo. With Feng Hao, he also developed the OpenVote boardroom voting scheme and the J-PAKE password based authenticated key establishment protocol. He also works on Quantum information assurance and the socio-technical aspects of security and trust.


Prior to taking up the Chair in Luxembourg, he held a Chair in Computing Science at the University of Newcastle. Before that he worked at the Government Communications HQ (GCHQ), CESG, the Defence Research Agency (DRA) Malvern, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Cambridge UK and the Software Engineering Institute, CMU Pittsburgh. 


He was awarded a PhD in mathematical physics from the University of London in 1982. He has sat on the program committees of numerous, prestigious security conferences, notably: IEEE Security and Privacy, IEEE Computer Security Foundations Workshop/Symposium (CSF), the European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS), Workshop on Issues in Security (WITS). He has (co-)chaired various editions of WITS and ESORICS, Frontiers of Electronic Elections, Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (WOTE) 2007, Evote-Id. He was General Chair of ESORICS 2019, which was hosted in Luxembourg. In 2016 he founded the Verifiable Voting workshops held in association with Financial Crypto. From 1999 to 2007 he was the President of the ESORICS Steering Committee. In 2013 he was awarded the ESORICS Outstanding Contributions Award.


He is a Visiting Professor at Surrey University and the ENS Paris.


link for robots only