Will your phone get hacked while you are voting in GE15?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Your Phone Will Get Hacked While You Vote In GE15!
This warning has gone viral on WhatsApp and social media, claiming that your phone will get hacked while you are voting in GE15!
The post is long, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts!
For first time voters, it might be tempting to bring your phone along with you to document and record your experience voting for the first time.
However, the Election Commission (EC) has announced that the use of mobile phones inside polling stations will not be allowed.
As such, you may use your phone to kill time while standing in line, but you’d have to surrender your phone once you collect your ballot paper.
Read more : New SPR Rules On Bringing + Using Phone On GE15!
Truth : Your Phone Won’t Get Hacked While You Vote In GE15!
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on WhatsApp and social media, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : Phones Are Left On KTM Table In Individual Boxes
First, let us establish some basic facts about how phones are “surrendered” before voting in GE15:
- Each polling station (Saluran) will have two voting booths, allowing two voters to mark their ballots at the same time.
- The KTM (Ketua Tempat Mengundi – Head of Polling Station) will have two cardboard boxes – one for each phone.
- On the way to the voting booth, each voter will place his/her phone into one of the two cardboard boxes on the KTM’s table.
- After casting the ballots, the voter will retrieve his/her phone from the cardboard box.
The polling clerks and the head of the polling station (KTM) will NOT touch any phone. Voters must place and retrieve their phones by themselves.
Fact #2 : There Are Many Witnesses In Each Polling Station
Each polling station has at least one police officer, three polling clerks and a KTM (Head of the Polling Station), as well as two or more observers.
That’s seven or more people arranged along three sides of the room, which means the phones placed on the KTM’s table are visible to all of them. Any attempt by anyone but the voters to handle the phones would be instantly noticed.
Read more : New SPR Rules On Bringing + Using Phone On GE15!
Fact #3 : KTM Is Usually A Teacher Working In That School
In Malaysian elections, schools are generally used as voting centres, with classrooms converted into polling stations.
Usually, the Malaysia Election Commission (SPR) appoints teachers of the same school as the KTM – head of each polling station.
While this does not mean some of these teachers are not secretly awesome hackers in their spare time, it means that your phones are generally being watched by teachers.
If you can trust school teachers with your kids, you can certainly trust them to WATCH OVER your precious phone.
Fact #4 : Marking Your Ballots Take Less Than A Minute
The only time your phone is out of your view is when you are marking your ballots in the voting booth.
How long do you reckon it takes to mark X on one or two ballots, and fold them? Maybe 10 seconds? 20 seconds if you are slow. No matter what – your mobile phone will only be out of sight for less than a minute.
Do you actually believe any hacker would have the time to hook up your phone to any cable, never mind hack it, in less than one minute?
Fact #5 : Juice Jacking Requires Cable To Be Plugged Into Phone
What this “ethical hacker” is referring to is called juice jacking. Juice jacking requires a cable to be plugged into your phone. It cannot happen wirelessly, because it relies on USB vulnerabilities.
As noted in Fact #1, you will place your phone into a large cardboard box. You will be able to see that there are no cables present.
While you are marking your vote, the box containing your phone will be fully visible to at least six other people in the room, if you discount the “nefarious KTM who is secretly an evil hacker”.
Even a “nefarious KTM who is secretly an evil hacker” will have trouble taking your phone out of the box, without any of the other people in the room noticing, never mind actually plugging in a cable.
That’s why the real risk of juice jacking isn’t that 20-30 seconds you spend voting in GE15, but when you plug your phone into a free USB power socket.
If you are paranoid, just cover your phone’s USB or Lightning port with tape, before you place it in the designated box.
Fact #6 : Juice Jacking Vulnerabilities Have Been Mitigated
As ethical hackers reveal security risks like juice jacking, Google and Apple have taken measures to mitigate the risks.
Both Android and iOS, for example, no longer allow the phone to be mounted as a drive when plugged in over USB. You will get a prompt asking you to confirm the step, which is not possible for the hacker to do without first unlocking the phone.
There have also been many Android and iOS security updates that patch vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to juice jacking attacks. That’s why it’s so important to keep your phone operating system updated.
Please WATCH OUT about such FAKE NEWS on WhatsApp and social media.
Remember – democracy does not guarantee us a good government. Democracy only guarantees us the right to vote out a bad government!
Happy voting on 19 November 2022!
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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