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Cutting-edge cryptography for secure e-voting, now and in the future

Five years ago, Swiss Post established a cryptography center in Neuchâtel. An interdisciplinary team at the center has developed Swiss Post’s fully verifiable e-voting system, which is currently in use in four cantons. Due to the high security requirements and regular system checks, the e-voting project is both challenging and significant – something that attracts specialized IT professionals. The team also uses its combined expertise to develop algorithms that are resistant to the increased processing power of quantum computers. 

For 175 years, Swiss Post has stood for the secure and trustworthy transport of letters and parcels. In today’s digital world, Swiss Post also transports electronic information. How does the company guarantee mail secrecy in the digital sphere and ensure that nobody can gain unauthorized access to messages? With cryptography. This is essentially a code based on mathematical methods and technologies that are used in IT to create exceptionally effective protection for systems and information. Five years ago, Swiss Post established a center for cryptography at its IT location in Neuchâtel.  






An ambitious project that attracts talent 

At this location, cryptographers, software developers, IT architects and security experts have developed Swiss Post’s new, fully verifiable e-voting system. “Swiss Post is playing a pioneering role here as a system that ensures complete verifiability had never been used in Switzerland before 2023,” explains Baptiste Lanoix, head of the center. 

“Our e-voting project is attracting growing interest from IT specialists and other experts worldwide. And as the project is such a fundamental issue for Switzerland, it’s easier for us to recruit talented IT and maths specialists, who are often trained and live in the region,” says Baptiste Lanoix. “It’s exciting work that provides the opportunity to contribute to an ambitious project which is vitally important to Swiss democracy.” To ensure we have the very latest knowledge in this rapidly developing field, employees get the chance to study at the best universities in the world. “For all these reasons, we haven’t really faced a shortage of qualified staff yet,” adds Lanoix. 


Olivier Esseiva, who is part of the team working on the e-voting system’s security and responsable of cryptography at the center in Neuchâtel: “It’s definitely an ambitious project, but also involves a high level of pressure and stress. The leading e-voting experts and ethical hackers in the world scrutinize every aspect of the system all year around. That means high quality is the benchmark every day. Working with experts from all over the world is a real buzz. Contributing to the security of e-voting in Switzerland is a source of respect, but also great pride,” adds Esseiva. 


Combating cyber risks now and in the future 

Olivier and the rest of the team are also working on a much more demanding task: the next-generation voting system. 


Security takes top priority in e-voting. The team at the cryptography center in Neuchâtel doesn’t just focus on current cyber risks, but also those that may emerge in future. Specialists are eagerly awaiting the first quantum computers, even though they’re still at the laboratory stage. But progress is being made. “Today, we’re already aiming to develop code capable of withstanding greater calculation power,” reveals Baptiste Lanoix. Work on the new cryptographic principles is already under way and seeks to maintain the highest security standards. “We’re preparing for the next generation of e-voting”, says Lanoix with a smile. “One thing’s for sure – there’ll be plenty of exciting work for my team in future.”


Open day, cryptography center

The public can visit this state-of-the-art facility for the very first time on 29 June as part of its open day to mark 175 years of Swiss Post.


Visitors will get the chance to meet Swiss Post’s cryptographers and software developers, and to improve their knowledge at workshops on programming and IT security (no prior knowledge required).

The event will be held in French.





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