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Critical Security Hole Found in Diebold Machines

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the want-my-money-back dept.

306

ckswift writes "From security expert Bruce Schneier's blog, a major security hole has been found in Diebold voting machines." From the article: "The hole is considered more worrisome than most security problems discovered on modern voting machines, such as weak encryption, easily pickable locks and use of the same, weak password nationwide. Armed with a little basic knowledge of Diebold voting systems and a standard component available at any computer store, someone with a minute or two of access to a Diebold touch screen could load virtually any software into the machine and disable it, redistribute votes or alter its performance in myriad ways."

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Black Box Voting & The Details (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316728)

BBV released a a nice guide [blackboxvoting.org] to how all this works. There appears to be a software access button (bottom of page 11):
The TSx also has an unmarked button hidden in the casing. On the circuit board, this switch is labeled "battery test". The switch is physically similar to many reset buttons, necessitating application of substantial force to press the button, requiring it to be depressed by about 1/5 - 1/6 inch in order to activate the switch. This switch is also software accessible. It is completely accessible for all voters in the standard voting booth configuration. The logic behind the button is unknown, but for an attacker it presents yet another way to interact with the machine, and an exceptionally convenient button switch for an attack designed to be triggered by a voter.
Well, this seems very insecure to me. BBV criticizes the three layer architecture and states that it would be very easy to target it three different ways [bbvforums.org] (at each layer):
- The application can be imagined as written instructions on a paper. If it is possible to replace these instructions, as it indeed seems, then the attacker can do whatever he wishes as long as the instructions are used.

- The operating system is the man reading the instructions. If he can be brainwashed according to the wishes of the attacker, then even correct instructions on the paper solve nothing. The man can decide to selectively do something different than the instructions. New paper instructions come and go, and the attacker can decide which instructions to follow because the operating system itself is under his control.

- The boot loader is the supreme entity that creates the man, the world and everything in it. In addition to creating, the boot loader also defines what is allowed in the world and delegates part of that responsibility to the operating system. If the attacker can replace the boot loader, trying to change the paper instructions or the man reading them does not work. The supreme entity will always have the power to replace the man with his own favorite, or perhaps he just modifies the man's eyes and ears: Every time the man sees yellow, the supreme being makes him think he is seeing brown. The supreme entity can give the man two heads and a secret magic word to trigger switching the heads.

In the world of the Diebold touch-screen voting terminals, all of these attacks look possible.

The instructions (applications and files) can be changed. The man reading the files (Windows CE Operating System and the libraries) can be changed. Or the supreme entity (boot loader) can be changed, giving total control over the operating system and the files even if they are "clean software."

Specific conceptual information is contained in the report, with details and filenames in the high-security version which is being delivered under cryptographic and/or personal signature controls to the EAC, Diebold CEO Tom Swidarski and CERT.

1) Boot loader reflashing
2) Operating system reflashing
3) Selective file replacement

In addition, the casing of the TSx machines lack basic seals and security, and within the casing additional exploitations are found.
The article talks about a "standard tool you can buy at any computer store" and I believe this is referring to a PCMCIA card (what you use in laptops). I guess these are used to boot, upgrade & ready the machines for use. They do not go into detail but I wager that using a PCMCIA card with a USB port on it, you could load your own data from a thumb/pen drive. This would be small and easy to carry in. If you had access to it outside of the voting window, you could potentially use a PCMCIA card that functions as a NIC (probably with RJ45 cable port) to use cross over cable and a laptop for a 'live' attack.

Diebold faces a conundrum here--there will be potentially tens of thousands of machines about and circulating. They must allow users to boot, service & have physical access to them for quite some window of time around the election. I think there's a lot of security problems that would be present with almost any provider for e-voting.

There are ways to minimize the possibility of this occurring but they aren't obvious. I would suggest a few things that might be at least worth looking into:
  • Making these devices large, restricted to the government, bulky & containing GPS units in the case of them being stolen. The ultimate fear is that someone has the time to take it apart and makes a "mole" running their own flavor of software that they insert into a truckload of them.
  • Doing sufficient testing to not require any upgrades. This is a simple system and I believe that bugs can be eliminitated entirely before launch date. This would remove the need for an easy access panel.
That may sound like overkill but if you're going to win a contract paid by my tax dollars dealing with my vote, you better damn well be ready for anything!

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316807)


Making these devices large, restricted to the government, bulky & containing GPS units in the case of them being stolen.

Not to sound pessimistic, but the government is precisely the people we need to protect this machine from. I would think that the only way to address this would be to:

  • Hold of on installing the final software load approved by both parties (and perhaps a third, 'impartial' entity) until the device is installed on-site (and bolted down)
  • Install the final software load while overseers from both parties (and the third, 'impartial' entity) verify the installation and the veracity of the software load via checksum.
  • Secure the access door permanently (rivets, welding, whatever), and have all overseers affix tamper-evident seals.
  • Overseers remain present throughout voting, and periodically inspect tamper-evident seals.

If an irregularity occurs, the entire process must be repeated and the citizens must be allowed to vote again. This will eliminate the posibility of people just tampering for the purpose of getting the precinct thrown out of the count.

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316898)

we could use paper ballots instead?

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (1)

fossa (212602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316940)

Install the final software load while overseers from both parties (and the third, 'impartial' entity) verify the installation and the veracity of the software load via checksum. Right... 'cause noone's ever written a program that "erases" all the cheat sheets from their TI graphing calculator. I agree with the other reply. Computer voting is "ooh, shiny" yet dangerously inferior to paper ballots in the ways that count.

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (0, Flamebait)

coofercat (719737) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316942)

Sort of reminds me about the story of the NASA space pen. It cost 5 million dollars to produce, over many man hours and represents the pinacle of pen technology.

The Russians just used a pencil.

That story may not be true, but you wonder if all this hassle's really worth it?

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (1)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317041)

I'm off topic, but que sera.
It's not true. [snopes.com]
Pencils have a problem where the leads can break off and weightlessly float into an eye or nose, or short circuit gear. There was a very nice pen developed, and both USA and Russia used it. But development was funded by a private company.

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (4, Insightful)

Sepper (524857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317028)

I still puzzles me why americans don't use something simpler [elections.ca] ...

hell, if India (with a BIGGER population) is capable of holding elections without soo much trouble, why can't the US do it?

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316847)

More Options:

Use a more secure OS. Win CE is not an OS designed to protect the system from the behavior of its users. Linux / Unix / Solaris would be.

Use a thin client. Why allow the user to touch the hardware system they're interacting with? That's always asking for trouble.

Open Source your software. Diebold doesn't sell the software anyway, they sell the system and the support. If they used a somewhat restrictive open source license (no commercial redistribution, etc) they could get some great debugging for very little cost.

Multiple points of data transmission. Send signed partial updates throughout the day, then one big batch in the middle of the night. If anything is different, if any sigs change, you know there has been tampering going on.

Paper trail. Duh.

Re:Black Box Voting & The Details (2, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316947)

Use a thin client.

Bad idea IMHO. This allows another attack vector: Just modify the connection from the thin client to the server.

Stupid first post just ignore it.... (-1, Troll)

fmerenda (78242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316732)

but it's ALL MINE BABY! ;)

Re:Stupid first post just ignore it.... (-1, Offtopic)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316744)

It looks like somebody with something intelligent to say beat you to it. That's like, double-burn.

Better luck next time.

Re:Stupid first post just ignore it.... (1)

fmerenda (78242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316763)

It's true!

I have officially been double-burned, and I deserve it! :)

Re:Stupid first post just ignore it.... (-1, Offtopic)

fmerenda (78242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316754)

Sorry... I didn't mean that the first post was stupid, I ment that my post was stupid...I thought I was first post! sorry..... go ahead and mod that as a troll, sorry about that, was an honest mistake. I suck!

It's not a bug, it's a feature! (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316737)


Considering that Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc., was quoted in August of 2003 as saying that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year" [commondreams.org] , this shouldn't be too surprising.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316783)

The majority of voters in largely Democratic areas in Ohio didn't even use electronic voting machines so this is kind of a moot point. The places where Bush scored highly used Diebold machines, true, but they also had very heavy Republican bases in the first place. This is yet another liberal urban legend people like to spread around that Diebold somehow tampered with the election. Please stop spreading this FUD.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316820)

If it looks like a goat, smells like a goat, and butts like a goat, it's a goat. You Republicans can keep calling this FUD, but when all signs point to corruption...it's probably corruption.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316827)

"The majority of voters in largely Democratic areas in Ohio didn't even use electronic voting machines so this is kind of a moot point. The places where Bush scored highly used Diebold machines, true, but they also had very heavy Republican bases in the first place."

I call bullshit on these claims. Show some proof.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316893)

It's not accurate. In fact, in some predominantly Democratic areas, only a few electronic voting machines were placed, creating lines that people waited in for hours.

So the OP may be sort-of right, most of the machines were placed in Republican districts.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (4, Insightful)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316904)

1. Do you have any stats to back this up? I am unconvinced by someone saying the word "FUD".
2. Diebold doesn't need to tamper with the election to make using their voting machines a horrible idea. As this article points out, there are extreme security flaws that allow others to tamper, which means Diebold has failed miserably at the goal of creating secure voting machines.
3. Assuming your stats are correct, is it a coincidence that the Diebold machines were installed in heavily Republican areas? Who got to decide on the voting machines/mechanisms used?
4. You say "yet another liberal urban legend" without giving any examples. Do you think there are more liberal urban legends than conservative ones? That would be a very difficult claim to defend. Which is probably why you just put it out there as if it was obvious in hopes that people would just agree. Sadly, this works all too well all too often in the political world. Your post is a couple of undefended partisan claims, and nothing more. If you're actually thinking about anything, please show us what you're thinking. Otherwise you might as well just say "REPUBLICANS RULE! DEMS SUCK! GO BUSH!" and keep contributing to the us and them sports fan mentality that American politics has become. Well that turned into a bit of a rant, didn't it?

Try looking at Maryland for an example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317067)

Maryland did not go for Bush in the last election, despite using Diebold machines. Of course you wouldn't let a FACT stand in the way of just repeating talking points about how elections were stolen.

Diebold were put in by a DEMOCRATIC controlled state government before our current goverenor (a Republican) was elected. He is trying to remove the machines from the state, but the DEMOCRAT controlled board of elections (state senate and house changed the law so he can't replace the head of the board) won't remove them.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316912)

Whether or not Diebold tampered with the last election is really a moot point now.

The Really scary fact everyone should be walking away with, is the Potential has been shown to tamper with future elections. We've practically been given instructions on how to do so.

Everyone (Democrat, Republican, or Whatever) SHOULD be screaming bloody murder right now to force Diebold to make the machines more secure before the next election. ...we should pass legislation to outlaw the current model of Diabold electronic voting machines, and not allow another to be used until all known security problems have been fixed ...as decided by an independant review board (Preferably composed of former Hackers on the US Government payroll).

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316945)

Right. For the first time exit polls, a statistically sound method of predicting the outcome of the election, diverged wildly from the supposed outcome.

And there were widespread reports of a lack of machines in heavily Democratic districts.

But it's all just an urban legand! Democrats being sore losers! Whiny liberals!

(The cognitive dissonance among rabid Bush worshippers is enough to make one's head asplode.)

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (1, Informative)

Tim Doran (910) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316964)

Can you back up your claim about the geographic locations of Diebold machines? What about machines made by Triad systems: http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/121604Z.shtml [truthout.org] , or http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/121604Z.shtml [truthout.org]

The 2004 election in Ohio is a black mark on America's democracy: http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/2004votefraud_oh io.html [whatreallyhappened.com]

The Diebold suspicions are difficult to prove (and I don't have time to dig for info right now) but the Ohio election itself was a disgrace. That's not a "liberal urban legend", it's well-documented fact.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (2, Insightful)

Salty Moran (974208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317003)

The majority of voters in largely Democratic areas in Ohio didn't even use electronic voting machines so this is kind of a moot point.

Are you implying that it is not important that republican votes be accurately accounted for? Maybe that it was a forgone conclusion that Bush would receive all or significantly close to all republican votes, so assurance of accuracy is not of significant concern?

A frightening excusatory remark indeed... I may have semi-predictable voting patterns that lead me to vote predominantly democratic, but if a voting machine picks up my vote as being for Hillary Clinton in 2008, I guarantee you I'd wish to be aware of the error regardless of what I was expected to do.

...yet another liberal urban legend...


Actually, this is FUD, not the original post. The original poster's concerns are shored up to a great extent by the very article under which the concerns were posted. What I just quoted from you is just a random claim you tossed out about some apparently nebulous web of deceit, yet I see nothing you've posted along with it that actually suggests any such thing exists.

Just because you SAY there are monsters under the bed doesn't make it so, and I don't see any beady eyes or claws peering out at me.

Please stop spreading this FUD.

An apt idea that you might consider applying to yourself in the future.

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (4, Informative)

tassii (615268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317011)

This is yet another liberal urban legend people like to spread around that Diebold somehow tampered with the election. Please stop spreading this FUD.

Unfortunately not FUD. There are documented cases where Diebold's machines subtracted one out of every 100 votes for a democratic candidate. Its only been caught on minor elections and other irregularites with Diebold's machines. From California:

http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/downloads/ resources/documents/ElectronicsInRecentElections.p df [verifiedvo...dation.org]

"At least one voter was able to vote twice on her "smart card", and 10 votes were inexplicably lost.

John Pilch, a retired insurance agent who worked as a polling place inspector in San Carlos, said that when polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, the number of people who signed the voter log differed from the number of ballots counted by computers.

"We lost 10 votes, and the Diebold technician who was there had no explanation," said Pilch, who registered complaints with elections officials, his county supervisor and several others. "She kept looking at the tapes."

At least 250 polls opened late because poll workers were unable to start up the machines, so hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were turned away - many of them disenfranchised because they were unable to return to the polls at a later time that day"


As well as been posted here: http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/ 16/1737228 [slashdot.org]

O'Dell Resigned for that Reason (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316800)

I believe that O'Dell resigned [usatoday.com] .

As the article you quoted states:
The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

O'Dell attended a strategy pow-wow with wealthy Bush benefactors - known as Rangers and Pioneers - at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch earlier this month. The next week, he penned invitations to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser to benefit the Ohio Republican Party's federal campaign fund - partially benefiting Bush - at his mansion in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington.
And as USA Today reported:
"The board of directors and Wally mutually agreed that his decision to resign at this time for personal reasons was in the best interest of all parties," said John Lauer, Diebold's non-executive chairman of the board.

The announcement was made after the stock market closed. Diebold stock fell nearly 2%, or 73 cents, to $37 in after-hours trading. The stock has traded between $33.10 and $57.81 in the past year.

What I would like to know..! (2, Insightful)

parasonic (699907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316809)

Why does Diebold design these machines in such a way that they *CAN* be hacked? I think that involving an Operating System and software in the design of such a machine is a critical error. As a computer engineer, I realize that overcomplicating things can lead to errors. DSP's can make hardware extremely cheap, but there are places where analog circuits are cheaper and more realiable! Why hasn't Diebold designed a hardwired electronic circuit or a mechanical system with failsafes such that the machine can't be hacked, and the wrong candidate will not be selected if the machine fails? There are so many places where their current design can and will go wrong. I believe that it's time for these loonies (or preferrably someone else who has more sense) to come up with a more rudimentary and failsafe design!

Re:What I would like to know..! (4, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316851)


Why does Diebold design these machines in such a way that they *CAN* be hacked?

Simple. Because that is their intention.

Acccuse me of left-wing moonbattery all you like, but the fact remains that Diebold has shown themselves to be capable of making reasonably secure ATM machines. There's no defense by incompetence available to them. These ridiculous security holes can only be intentional.

Re:What I would like to know..! (5, Insightful)

geobeck (924637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316943)

These ridiculous security holes can only be intentional.

My greatest fear regarding American elections is that Diebold machines will be used for a national vote to repeal the 22nd amendment, then for the following presidential acclimation--I mean, election.

Americans, please, start a grassroots movement to outlaw the use of any electronic, and therefore hackable, voting machines. Look at Canada's election process. Sure, we have only 10% of your population, but we have substantially less than 10% of your election hassles. In Canada, paper ballots are counted manually by Elections Canada volunteers, witnessed at each vote counting station by representatives from all official parties.

And for the love of Mike, start some new political parties! You may turf out the Republicans in 2008, but your Democrats are no prize either!

Re:What I would like to know..! (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317046)


Don't look now, but such a repeal has already been proposed [loc.gov] .

Now, this seems to be a fairly standard thing, actually. Someone seems to propose the elimination of term limits every [house.gov] administration [washingtontimes.com] or so, but these are truly unusual times...I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this proposed again and ratified in the hysteria following another 'terrorist attack'.

The day this passes is the day I either join the Michigan Militia or move to Canada.

Not Diebold -- it's the people you voted for. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316997)

Never attribute to conspiracy what can be easily attributed to greed.

Diebold's marketdroids have, I'm sure, come up with the ideal price point for electronic voting machines. I don't know exactly what it is, but it's got to be something less than the old mechanical "pull the lever" machines, but still substantial.

Since the price is basically fixed, they then have a motivation to produce the cheapest, shoddiest piece of shit that they possibly can, to maximize their profit.

I have no doubt that, if a major company really wanted to, they could probably make a reasonably secure electronic voting machine. We have -- as you pointed out -- reasonably secure ATM machines. There's not something magical about making a voting machine: they could build it like an ATM, run it on the software platform that drives ATMs (OS/2, in many cases, I think), and give it all the same physical and data security. Coupled with procedural safeguards (paper trail, periodic inspections on voting day), I would feel comfortable using one.

However, all this would do one of two things: 1, it would cut into Diebold's profits, or 2, it would cause the machines to be so expensive that municipalities would rethink replacing their existing machines, or rethink using electronic voting as opposed to mechanical machines or other alternatives.

There's no giant right-wing tinfoil hat conspiracy going on. They're just applying the Wal-Mart Method to voting machines: figure out what people are willing to pay, and then deliver them the cheapest piece of shit that barely fills their requirements (but does it poorly), in order to maximize your margins.

To be perfectly honest, I can't fault Diebold for this. People love to demonize them, but they're not the worst actors in all of this. What they're doing ought to come as a surprise to nobody. The people who have every last bit of the blame for the cockup that this situation has turned into -- and it's only going to get worse -- are the local governments who have accepted the shit that Diebold is turning out.

If a company turns out a shoddy product, we need to tell them that's not acceptable by refusing to buy it. If they make cheap crap, and we buy it, then we might as well just bend over and say "thank you sir, may I have another!"

It's easy to demonize Diebold because there's only one of them; but really the people you need to be looking at are the asshats that decided to adopt their shitty equipment and use it to record your votes.

How long would it take... (4, Insightful)

Analogy Man (601298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317048)

Suppose DieBOLD's ATM machines had a backdoor key sequence that would enable me to get the whole stack of 20's. How long would it take them to slam that door shut?

The Shock! The Surprise! (5, Insightful)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316738)

So the closed-source company with apparent links to the incumbent government and a record of blocking any attempts to investigate their code turn out to have security flaws?

Okay - closed-source versus open-source is a non-issue, but I expected something like this from Diebold sooner or later.

I'm seriously worried though. Here in Australia a lot of ATMs have been replaced recently with shiny new Diebold machines. I've no doubt they're harder to hack, but it's not an encouraging sign.

Re:The Shock! The Surprise! (3, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316814)

Because Diebold is only interested in stealing elections, not your money. So rest easy.

Why doesn't diebold? (3, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316739)

Why doesn't diebold just use the same security system [diebold.com] it uses on its ATMs? After all (quoting):
Sygate defends your ATM with multiple layers of security:

First, the system locks down all electronic points of entry - making them invisible to hackers, viruses, and worms.

Next, it monitors, analyzes, and authenticates any external source attempting to connect to the ATM- and blocks anything the software doesn't recognize.
Failing that, they should just use the blue force shields that feature prominently in their Digital Security Video [diebold.com] hahahaha - as long as your attacker is using little yellow balls to stage their attack.

Re:Why doesn't diebold? (3, Funny)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316791)

"Failing that, they should just use the blue force shields that feature prominently in their Digital Security Video - as long as your attacker is using little yellow balls to stage their attack."

Yes, because I'm fairly certain that somebody somewhere has come up with an insidious plot to rig the elections with a Nerf gun.

Re:Why doesn't diebold? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316911)

Yes, because I'm fairly certain that somebody somewhere has come up with an insidious plot to rig the elections with a Nerf gun.

God damnit ... back to the drawing board. It was such a good plan, too.

Re:Why doesn't diebold? (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317007)

Why doesn't diebold just use the same security system it uses on its ATMs?
i wouldn't really assume that they aren't, which says something about the ATMs. but i'm guessing that banks that buy the ATMs are probably doing more testing on their own of the final product, which would force the vendor to be more careful designing it. banks care more about losing their money than the goverment has been caring about altered votes.

America, home of the brave, land of the free (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316741)

Or as it now know, home of the corrupt, land of the liars.

Are they using... (0, Offtopic)

bc90021 (43730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316747)

...VNC 4.1 [slashdot.org] perhaps? ;-)

can i be the first to say... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316748)

REALLY. OMG. Who'd a thunkit.
 
seriously, that practices going on around this company made me assume that such a thing was possible. security through obscurity was the mantra i kept hearing from diebold, which to me translates as a few people get to have holes that the majority don't know enough about to stop. 3rd party audit people. even if it's not released publicly.

Armed with a little basic knowledge (1)

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316750)

Is the possibility that someone with a little bit of knowledge could determine the outcome of a vote really that bad?

Re:Armed with a little basic knowledge (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316867)

No, but the thought that someone without even a little knowledge could hire someone with just a little knowledge to affect the election... That's truly scary.

Funny isn't it? (2, Informative)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316757)

Diebold can make a box that handles your money with no issues. They make a voting machine that is atrocious and faulty. Goes to show where priorities lie across the board.

Why ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316790)

If my money gets lost, I can sue the bank, Diebold, or whomever I think is responsible for this.



If my vote gets lost, I can get sued under various laws that come into existence because of this (DMCA/PATRIOT-ACT/etc).

Re:Funny isn't it? (5, Insightful)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316831)

They make a voting machine that is atrocious and faulty.

To be fair, even if it were someone else, voting machines that submit the vote in electronic form simply have fundamental problems with accountability. Yes, Diebold has had some atrocious engineering problems, but even if you took the best group of engineers on the planet and asked them to replace the pencil or hole punch machine with a fully electronic form, they'd still have a vastly more exploitable system than the traditional system.

I view Diebold as representative of a lot of companies that get government contracts -- obtaining unneeded pork, doing a fairly half-assed job. However, while some things (like the criminal records of people presiding over the project) were a little disturbing, I'm more willing to say that Diebold probably has nothing more malicious in mind than getting as much money as possible and not caring much as to how useful (or dangerous) their work is.

The real problem is that no voting administrator wants to be in the shoes of the Florida people, where questionable ballots exceeded the margin by which Bush won. An electronic form throws away all data other than a simple vote -- it may not be more accurate, but it covers the asses of voting administrators.

The fact that the whole system is much less accountable and more open to abuse and attacks than a physical system is more an issue that not of the involved people (voting officials and Diebold) just don't care about than one that I expect that they intend to personally exploit.

Re:Funny isn't it? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317080)

Diebold probably has nothing more malicious in mind than getting as much money as possible and not caring much as to how useful (or dangerous) their work is.

Of course you can say the same about e.g. the Mafia.
(For those who don't get it: No, I'm not claiming Diebold is like the Mafia; I just point out a flawed argument.)

Re:Funny isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317086)

I view Diebold as representative of a lot of companies that get government contracts -- obtaining unneeded pork, doing a fairly half-assed job.


Let me guess, you are a libertarian, right? Hence the equally huge amount of "pork" and "half-assed jobs" that are done in the pure-private-sector don't count? Sorry, but this all has nothing to do with the concept of government in general, rather this particular one that we have chosen to implement (one that is basically driven by corporate special interests). The only reason you even KNOW about these problems is because the government is far more open and accountable than any corporation, who would have had a much easier time covering it up.

Re:Funny isn't it? (1)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316845)

Diebold can make a box that handles your money with no issues.

Well, not exactly [slashdot.org] . Diebold ATMs have been featured rather prominently on Slashdot before...

"any" software, eh? (2, Funny)

chrish (4714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316760)

Installing "Goatse.cx Screensaver", please wait...

Re:"any" software, eh? (3, Funny)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316804)

Or...

"Who is this 'Cockmongler', and why should I vote for him?"

Re:"any" software, eh? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316870)

But I thought finally we got rid of hanging chads...

The Diebold Chronicles (4, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316769)

A Finnish computer expert working with Black Box Voting, a nonprofit organization critical of electronic voting, found the security hole in March after Emery County, Utah, was forced by state officials to accept Diebold touch screens, and a local elections official let the expert examine the machines.

Black Box Voting was to issue two reports today on the security hole, one of limited distribution that explains the vulnerability fully and one for public release that withholds key technical details.

The computer expert, Harri Hursti, quietly sent word of the vulnerability in March to several computer scientists who advise various states on voting systems. At least two of those scientists verified some or all of Hursti's findings. Several notified their states and requested meetings with Diebold to understand the problem.

Oh, those plucky Finns and the trouble they cause...

Does anybody get the idea that Diebold simply threw these machines together, cobbled the code together from stuff lying around the shop, slapped some paint on them, and expected states to use them no questions asked? You would think somewhere along the line, someone would have stood up at a development meeting and said, "we'd better make sure these things are secure."

Diebold will of course now hem, haw, blame others, attack the media and anti-electronic voting groups, and reluctantly fix the problem. Just in time for the next one to crop up. Do they have any competition in this market? I don't hear a lot about other companies creating voting machines -- either there aren't any or they do a lot better job.

Re:The Diebold Chronicles (1)

Dracolytch (714699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316972)

Honestly, with Dibold's documented contempt for the democratic process and the lack of something as simple as a paper trail, I'm half suspicious they delivered these machines, and then told the government how "a hacker might access these systems" and then "untracably alter the vote" (wink wink).

~D

Re:The Diebold Chronicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316983)

You would think somewhere along the line, someone would have stood up at a development meeting and said, "we'd better make sure these things are secure."

Says who? Certainly not the management at election software companies.

Our state had a similar discovery with ES&S election software during an evaluation of them for our RFP. When we discovered a serious lack of any awareness of security issues, especially risk management-related items that illustrate some analysis from a broad perspective, we asked them for specific information on their security programs.

Their answer was to point to SAS-70 audits. If you do not know what that is, it is a statement by independent accountants that says you probably have enough money in the bank to stick around awhile longer and seem to have management control over things (internal controls), especially money. My observation has always been that as Microsoft would probably blow away most companies if financial statements and available cash was the litmus test and yet they have no shortage of security problems, a SAS-70 isn't really appropriate for determining information security.

ES&S also seemed to rely upon their other vendors for security. Microsoft patches make their system secure, and if they don't, it is Microsoft's fault and nonunique. That kind of pass-the-buck reasoning. Their own security staff was lacking, their program exclusively physical and technology level oriented with zero strategic awareness, and they demonstrated a lack of non-accountant external verification and periodic inspection.

In other words, they built a plane out of bricks that had wings and an engine but never looked at aerodynamic requirements, have a baggage loader they declared to be responsible for flight safety, and had a CPA firm declare them to be risk-free. If the plane crashes, it certainly is the engine manufacturer's fault because we all know a strong enough engine could fly anything even though the engine manufacturer was never consulted about this brick monstrosity.

Please, if you deal with any election system, actually use competent independent verification and be very prepared to have to reject the vendor. If you already use a system like this, understand the law increasingly looks to you as the respnosible party that did not excercise due diligence when purchasing this equipment. There are alternatives to the latest and greatest touch-screen box if you must hold off.

Re:The Diebold Chronicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317010)

Diebold has long manufactured the optical scanner systems that are used to tally ballots. I imagine it was a natural fit to have them design the "next generation" of voting machine.

And yes, considering they use Access databases for data storage, I'd say they're cobbled together.

(Huzzah for the lowest bidder!)

Re:The Diebold Chronicles (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317023)

"Does anybody get the idea that Diebold simply threw these machines together, cobbled the code together from stuff lying around the shop, slapped some paint on them, and expected states to use them no questions asked?"

I think it's equal parts crappy production and braindead design -- you know, design where the manager says "Make sure the system is secure and has passwords, but make the passwords easy to remember so that we don't get locked out of the system." In this case "Make sure that there is someway that we can get in there if we have to -- you know, in case there is an emergency."

But given the state of the vote here in Ohio, I'm beginning to wonder if they weren't specifically designed for election stealing.

Diabold makes ATMs as well (1, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316776)

I have noticed that last time I took some cash from BoA ATM machine.

This is scary.

Re:Diabold makes ATMs as well (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316936)

I don't think I've ever seen a Diabold ATM. It's probably best to avoid those the same way you'd avoid home electronics made by Sorny or Panaphonics. And it's not a great idea to use Diebold ATMs either, though that's a bit harder to avoid.

Re:Diabold makes ATMs as well (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316995)

Here is what I found [banktech.com] :

Bank of America has completed the task of outsourcing the servicing of its ATM network, signing a seven-year deal with Diebold to take over the maintenance of 10,000 machines. The agreement covers maintenance service in the western United States, plus existing contracts previously awarded to Diebold in the eastern United States.


I guess machines were made (hopefully) by somebody else, Diabold is doing only maintainance. On the other hand, who knows what kind of maintainance they will do

Sweet! (1, Funny)

raider_red (156642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316777)

I'm getting myself elected emporor!

Re:Sweet! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316971)

Sorry, but your evil plan failed due to a typo in yur code.

How this bug was found (4, Informative)

DingerX (847589) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316778)

Anyone else think this is sweet?

A Finnish computer expert working with Black Box Voting, a nonprofit organization critical of electronic voting, found the security hole in March after Emery County, Utah, was forced by state officials to accept Diebold touch screens, and a local elections official let the expert examine the machines.


That's right. We've seen this before [slashdot.org] .

Turns out Diebold has a strong interest in keeping their security systems proprietary.

Obligatory "all your votes" blah (0)

Bombula (670389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316789)

All your votes are belong to us.

Re:Obligatory "all your votes" blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316989)

Score: +1 (What You Say!!!)

rig machine vs. bribe electoral college? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316795)

Why go to the trouble to rig a machine when you can just bribe the electoral college? Wouldn't that be a much more effective way to swing an election, since they are the ones that actually do the voting?

Re:rig machine vs. bribe electoral college? (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316818)

Why bribe everyone in the electoral college when you can just the two candidates instead?

Re:rig machine vs. bribe electoral college? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316842)

Good point, I suppose it hardly matters who gets elected if you can just support their post-election political bids to get your special interests catered to.

why do we need electronic voting? (3, Insightful)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316802)

What's so bad about the optical scanners and the ballots where you fill in a circle? I remember a study that showed they were the most secure, you have a paper trail, and any idiot can figure it out after 13 years of standardized testing. Electronic voting, on the other hand, smacks of boodoggle, fraud & overall shoddiness.

Re:why do we need electronic voting? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316882)

I think you've answered your own question.

Re:why do we need electronic voting? (1)

jdcook (96434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317037)

The best reason to use electornic voting machines is that they allow many people with disabilities (especially the visually impaired) vote in private w/o assistance of the 97 year olds working the election. This is not a good reason to use shitty electronic voting machines however.

Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317088)

"The best reason to use electornic voting machines is that they allow many people with disabilities"

Not true, the screen has a lower contrast than paper, the screen is more diffult to press correctly than scratching a mark on a piece of paper, and if you still need assistence, its not as easy to verify that the person who helped you did so correctly.

Cue rimshot (-1, Redundant)

omega9 (138280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316821)

Critical Security Hole Found in Diebold Machines

This just in:
  • The sun is hot!
  • Your shit stinks!
  • Emacs sucks!


Come on. Tell us something we didn't know.

Re:Cue rimshot (3, Funny)

dave-tx (684169) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316923)

Come on. Tell us something we didn't know.

OK. OLN has hired a man named Stanley Cup [philly.com] to promote the NHL playoffs this year.

Re:Cue rimshot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316991)

You: Emacs sucks
Doctor: Emacs? Hah! I would appreciate it if you would continue.

Yes, but... (1)

zenmojodaddy (754377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316844)

... surely only an EVIL TERR'IST would do such a thing, right?

Will the US wake up one day ? (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316850)

How come no political party makes this a central campaign argument ?

WHEN AND WHERE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317042)

i live right outside of DC. On July 4th, i hope to celebrate independence day the way i always wanted to:

INDEPENDENCE FROM COMMERCIALS. turn off all media for that day
INDEPENDENCE FROM WASTE: eat only foods from a grocery store and avoid anything with fructose corn syrup.
INDEPENDENCE FROM OIL: obvious
INDEPENDENCE FROM TAPPED COMMUNICATIONS: don't use the phone
INDEPENDENCE FROM BUSH: Take all of the above and protest this crazy voting system, both technologically, and mathematically. It's crud both ways

what am i missing? Yes, we already have a holiday PERFECT for showing the world what we think, and silly us, we thought it was commorating something we gained hundreds of years ago. How quaintly delusional.

My 'confirm you're a human' keyword: lockups. If that's what it takes.

they did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317095)

Third parties DID make this an issue after the last election results. That the top D or R parties didn't (grassroots are another story) is becase both of those operate as a cooperating cartel, which have conspired to hijack the US government and hold it as an extensive jobs and skimming/fraud operation. We have at the top the globalist exploitation party, with two wings.

Re:Will the US wake up one day ? (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317108)

Perhaps not a central argument, but part of the platform [constitutionparty.org] . Specifically the first and last paragraphs of that section, regarding fraud.

Of course, the problems of plurality voting methods still work to ensure that virtually no one in the USA will take a "third party" seriously enough to vote for them, no matter how good the ideas. You'll generally see good ideas for electoral reform, ballot access reform, etc, in just about every minor party...but because those parties themselves are marginalized, so are the ideas. When groups as ideologically diverse as the Green, Libertarian, and Constitution parties do agree on something, you'd think someone would take notice.

Re:Will the US wake up one day ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317109)

Because all political parties are prone to cheating in one way or another?

This is just one avenue for voter fraud, something that has been going on for a lot longer than this with a lot less sophisticated voting procedures.

And no, it's not just Bush and it's not just the Republicans.

I still love ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316853)

I still love that GEMS Access database which stores the votes completely unprotected: http://www.sierratimes.com/03/07/11/article_electi on_fraud.htm [sierratimes.com]

So that means... (0)

dJOEK (66178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316860)

Voting American Slashdot Readers will have a CmdrTaco option? ;-)

I bet alot of people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316864)

Are laughing and thinking to themselves "told you so"

Erik

Diebold is so secure that... (-1, Offtopic)

Hootenanny (966459) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316879)

Last year I was in a restroom in the Chicaco O'Hare airport. I found a leather briefcase that had been left behind, and I was the only one around. So I opened the briefcase to find who it belonged to, and I found a stack of business cards identifying the owner as Wally O'Dell, Diebold CEO and Chairman of the Board. I try to be a good Boy Scout, so I took it over to airport security, and found a very frantic Mr. O'Dell. He pulled out his wallet and asked if I wanted a reward, and I said no thanks.

No worries here (4, Funny)

imkonen (580619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316881)

Jeez...what's everyone so paranoid about? How could a hacker possibly get access to a voting machine for a minute or two with enough privacy to load malicious software? He'd need to find one that for some reason or another had a curtain around it and hope no one thinks it's suspicious that he'd be in there alone with the machine.

Power to geek (1)

WebfishUK (249858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316894)

On the otherhand you could see this working in favour of the geek. After all only someone with sufficient geek knowledge could rig the voting in their favour. Unlike the current paper systems which any f**kwit can abuse.

Maybe the geek will inherit the earth after all

Bush! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316895)

This is all the work of the evil Hitler reincarnative Cheney and his puppet Bush. Togather with Gen. Hayden and Diebold they are planning on taking over the world and drilling for oil everywhere! Long live Lenin, Stalin, Mao and the 12th Imam! Only Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his nukes can save us! Die capatalist pigs! Die!

this FP for 0GNAA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316914)

not so bad. To the you to join the [amazingkreskin.com] [sAMAG.COM] IN THE BSD culminated in

Ministry of Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15316916)

Punish the whistleblower. Shoot the messenger. Insist that everything you do is lawful and is fully supported by the Constitution. Nor does is spying an invasion of privacy. Remember, the terrorists hate our freedom. If we take it away they won't hate us anymore. Leave no paper trail behind.

It'll never work... (2, Insightful)

Keichann (888574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316970)

It's pointless talking about securing something that's inherently a terrible idea. You can't have voting performed by something that is, for most people, magical.

A good way to be certain these machines are sending the correct votes is to have a paper trail. When a person votes, a transaction id and their vote are printed to a piece of card or something, which is then put in a ballot box.

To verify that no votes have been sent by the machine without interaction, a random set of votes is selected from the result the machine sent and these are checked against the paper votes. To check that all votes have been sent correctly, a random set of paper votes are checked against the records sent by the machine. If either of these doesn't correlate, the paper votes are always assumed to be correct.

Even if this were to happen, it would (probably) take almost as much effort as counting the votes by hand!

Any Software? (1)

Mignon (34109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316973)

someone with a minute or two of access to a Diebold touch screen could load virtually any software into the machine

<sarcasm>Far be it from me to perpetuate Slashdot cliches</sarcasm> but

  • Will it run Linux, and
  • Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you President Torvalds...

If you press really really hard (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15316990)

You might get to vote for Tim P Gary K or Gordon E.
"Elect 2006" - A 32 bit patch for a 16 bit interface to an 8 bit OS designed for a 4 bit chip
from a 2 bit company that can't stand 1 bit of democracy.

Heisenbergian Theory of Security (1)

bsmoor01 (150458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317039)

Does anyone else think that Diebold invests in the Heisenbergian theory of security? You just have to trust that it's secure, and if you look to see if it really is, then it may not be.

Haven't they yet discover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15317050)

Haven't they yet discover that the screen is also a fingerprint sensor
that matches your identity against a database of all your phone calls,
everywhere you traveled and everything you bought with your credit card?

Diebold's proprietary issues (2, Interesting)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317054)

A little searching here on /. and Google will remind people how these kinds of issues have come up with Diebold Touch Screen Voting Machines before. I have to wonder why they, in particluar, seem to have more problems than other voting maching manufacturers? (no sarcasm intended).

Most of the articles I have read, including this one, point to the fact that it can only be done by someone who knows how the system works and has the correct tools, lending some politicos (including Diebold reps) to say that they really aren't that vulnerable at all or that the problem is not serious. But stakeholders in elections results are precisely the people who could have someone in-the-know and with the correct tools manipulate the results just enough to tip the scales in one candidates favor or another. California realized this and dumped Diebold. Close elections happen all the time, so possible (even plausible) scenarios are not to hard to imagine. If a Diebold machine can be rerogrammed or altered for voting results, even the "verifiable paper trail" could be made to print out alternative results (for those who don't bother to look at the print-out window).

As an Ohio voter who has used one of these machines, I think I am going to have to vote absentee from now on, since a newly passed Ohio law permits me to do so far any reason at all (e.g. I dont want to vote on a vulnerable touch screen machine).

For me, this is one more poignient example of how proprietary voting technology leaves room for problems and the need for transparency with it by proper (preferably Federal) legislation.

Vote Stealing Song (2, Insightful)

gorehog (534288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317061)

---sung to the tune of Woody Guthrie's Hard Travelling
D
Diebold's stealing elections, I thought you knowed.

Diebold's stealing elections
A7
on machines with closed source code.
D
We dont need no double dealing,
G
electronic vote stealing.
A7
Diebold's stealing elections,
D
Lord.

Diebold's stealing our votes, the right that makes us free.
Diebold's stealing our votes, oh cant you see.
How can they say I'm free if their machines can vote for me?
Diebold's stealing our votes, Lord.

Diebold's stealing our votes, I thoought you knowed.
They've been shredding the paper trail at the end of the road.
It doesn't matter who you choose, when you're sure you're gonna lose.
Diebold's stealing our votes, Lord.

I'm gonna vote with pen and paper I thought you knowed.
I'm gonna see it counted at the end of the road.
I'm gonna vote with pen and paper so I know that there's a record.
And I'm gonna go vote my conscience Lord.

A quick couple of notes (so to speak)...
The chords are right as far as I know. The words are mine, though they dont fit quite right in all the places. Either apply Tom Leherer's rule that "it doesnt even matter if you fit a few extra syllables into a line" or use the folk process to make it fit so you can sing it.

Also, I've got one line with no verse to put around it...

"Voting wont be so scary if the countings not binary"

The main thrust of this song is to educate and protest on the issue of electronic voting. I am a New York State resident and for those who dont know we are being sued by the feds to upgrade our nice mechanical voting machines to electronic voting. If we do not they are going to withhold federal money for the upkeep of our voting system. This is blackmail, the same kind of blackmail that was used to put the 55 mph speed limit in place.

Our voting machines have worked for a century with the same design. We trust them to do the job and know where the flaws and weak spots in the security are. We, as a group, when polled, do not show a desire to change the system at this point and our state voting commission and legeslative review boards have rejected electronic voting as an unsecure and immature technology. The peculiarities of how a state does it's voting is a state's right to decide, which is why different states have different rules about every aspect of the electoral process. Some states are proportional, some are by district. Some states use machines and others use punchcards. Election laws are made at the local level.

The lawsuit by the federal government smacks of blackmail and manipulation. Why is the federal gov trying to control the electoral process at the local level? What do they hope to gain?

Election Fraud (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317072)

So, there exists the possibility of election fraud. How is this different than what we already have? In fact the skeptic in me (which takes up most of me) wonders if we have ever even had a legitamate election here in the US.

Where I am in Ohio we just had news break of a huge voting scam where people were shaving the chads off of the cards for the candidates they wanted to win and leaving the others.

One of the problems I have with democracy is that it's naturally subject to this kind of manipulation. Are there any possible solutions to remedy this? I don't think more oversight will work, because who will watch those that are doing the watching? Any suggestions are welcome, but until I hear of a practical way to stop voting fraud I will treat any election results we have with a huge grain of salt.

Havent' they found out yet? (1)

BamZyth (940235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15317074)

Haven't they yet discover that the screen is also a fingerprint sensor that matches your identity against a database of all your phone calls, everywhere you traveled and everything you bought with your credit card?
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