How to hack a Diebold ‘AccuVote,’ by Princeton U
Friday September 15th 2006, 7:18 pm

PWN3D by H4XxoRs!Princeton University’s Information Technology Policy department has demonstrated that it is possible to hack a Diebold AccuVote TouchScreen voting machine, causing it to display a predetermined winner, leaving no trace of malicious software. Watch the video.

Diebold maintains that ‘election procedures’ would make the Princeton hack impossible in a real election setting.

However, US elections are not run by neutral poll staff nor are tabulated by an independent body such as the AEC in Australia; virus transmitted by moving memory card from infected to uninfected machinesthe polls are run by members of the Republican and Democrat parties. If the machine is hackable, there’s no assurance that it won’t be hacked, as long as partisans are in charge of the polls. It’s a piss-poor design if it relies on everyone’s honesty and good intentions.

Diebold also claims that the virus Princeton created could not spread as the machines are never connected by a network, despite Princeton’s demonstration of the ‘sneakernet’ method of spreading the virus by simply transferring a memory card from one machine to another- no network required.

See Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s article in Rolling Stone, “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

There’s been some recent rumour of electronic voting machines being adopted in Australia. If we get them, they damned well better give a printed, traceable paper receipt as well as be demonstrably hackproof.


7 Comments so far
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No such thing as security by obscurity – the schematics and software of such a machine ought to be freely available. And there’s the snag… a company isn’t going to develop a voting machine of its own accord and then give away the intellectual property. So I’d say it’s up to a body such as the CSIRO to lead the way in moving Australians towards a 21st-century participatory democracy – a body that can freely spend money for the good of the country, with no commercial benefit expected.

Oh, wait, that won’t fly under Howard, will it?

Comment by Flashman 09.15.06 @ 8:14 pm

Flash, in Australia, we should probably stick with the paper ballots. They’re at least standardised and tabulated by an independent, transparent and auditable body.

However, if we ever do get electronic voting, CSIRO is the outfit to build it, for sure. I’m sure they can find a way to secure the machine.

Security obviously wasn’t one of Diebold’s concerns. Hell, my current PC will raise an alarm and create a log file in the BIOS EPROM if you do so much as remove & reinstall the memory sticks… and I’m quite sure my P4 3.3GHz cost a lot less than a Diebold ‘AccuVote.’

Comment by weez 09.15.06 @ 9:16 pm

Flash, in Australia, we should probably stick with the paper ballots. They’re at least standardised and tabulated by an independent, transparent and auditable body.
Whaddya mean PROBABLY? .. and who’s to say that the CSIRO (a government funded body) is not subject to pressure from Canberra. Has been known ..

Comment by Davo 09.16.06 @ 3:26 pm

True- CSIRO has been pressured lately, on global warming predictions, if I recall correctly.

The US has got about 15 times the number of voters as does Australia. Paper ballots are still practical here for the most part, though the optional preferential voting systems does make for a very laaaaaaarge ballot sheet.

I’d reason that this ‘bedsheet’ as it’s called locally, would be subject to invalidation by improper marking by confused voters, but the number of ‘informal’ votes tabulated by AEC is not generally out of the ordinary.

Still, I’d like an ‘expert system’ to advise me while I’m voting in Australia. I vote ‘below the line,’ candidate by candidate, instead of voting via any particular party. Easy to inadvertently spoil a ballot this way.

Comment by weez 09.17.06 @ 9:12 am

Now there’s this – the Diebold lock can be opened with a standard minibar/filing cabinet key. Duh…..

Comment by Flashman 09.19.06 @ 12:02 pm

Heh, saw that covered on the Brad Blog earlier today. ๐Ÿ˜€

Elections secure as any mini-bar bottle of whiskey… that’s been refilled with tea… as you do. ๐Ÿ˜€

Comment by weez 09.19.06 @ 3:13 pm

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