s skippy the bush kangaroo: latimes examines diebold problem...on page 39

skippy the bush kangaroo

Thursday, February 23, 2006

latimes examines diebold problem...on page 39

the good news is, the latimes exposes sec. of state macpherson's rush to certify the diebold voting machines in california elections, and the problems they still pose. the bad news is, they do it in the business section, 39 pages into today's edition:

as the last two presidential elections demonstrate, ballot results are of profound interest to everybody — including determined hackers with partisan agendas. therefore, it's proper to demand of the high-tech machines replacing the paper ballots and punch cards of yore that they be technologically bulletproof. the diebold systems certified by mcpherson — an optical scanner that reads hand-marked ballots and a touch screen that totes up votes directly — fall well short of that standard.

how do we know this? it's the conclusion of a panel of computer security experts mcpherson commissioned specifically to study diebold's software. three days after they issued their report feb. 14, mcpherson gave diebold thumbs up, noting that the panel regarded the software problems it found as "manageable" and had said the risks could be "mitigated" if election officials took care.

but the experts were plainly troubled by flaws in diebold's systems. the panel, which included david jefferson of lawrence livermore national laboratory and david wagner of berkeley, observed that the removable memory cards used by diebold were vulnerable to undetectable acts of tampering.

the panel found 16 software bugs that could cede "complete control" of the system to hackers who might then "change vote totals, modify reports, change the names of candidates, change the races being voted on," and even crash the machines, bringing an election to a halt. hackers wouldn't need to know passwords or cryptographic keys, or have access to any other part of the system, to do their dirty work. voters, candidates and election monitors wouldn't necessarily know they'd been rooked.

well, we expect there was plenty more important news for the front page of the paper.

addendum: not only does brad blog also examine the latimes piece, he quotes several other news organs about the california, maryland and florida vote machine fiascos.
posted by skippy at 10:09 PM |


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