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Steal Away

Friday, Sept. 15, 2006 1:08 PM


A group at Princeton University conducted a security analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS machine and found it to be vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. An attacker with access to the machine or its removable memory card could install malicious code that could steal votes, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent.

These findings are independent from those published earlier this year by Open Foundation Voting, which showed that the circuit board on a Diebold machine has the instructions for altering the machine's boot-up process printed on the circuit board. A screwdriver, a minute or two, and you're in business (or in office, as the case may be).

And yet, Diebold has been consistent in their denials that their machines are flawed, routinely accusing security experts as making up scenarios. A spokesman for Diebold has said he doesn't believe that 'evil elections people' – employees with access to the machines and intent to defraud the public – exist.

But it overlooks small details like all of the machines being protected by the same key, with a lock that can be easily picked. (As one member of the Princeton group did.) It neglects policies where voting machines, after being certified, are then 'sent home' with polling place workers.

The authors of the Princeton study point out that they do not believe that past elections have been stolen, but that the vulnerabilities in the Diebold machine cannot be ignored.



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