Rant of the Week

And Diebold Carries On


"In May, two more tests were held, this time with Hursti present. Using a device bought for about $200, he was able to easily alter the final vote by changing the program stored on the memory card.

"You have to admit these systems are vulnerable and act accordingly," Hursti said.

Diebold took a dim view of the experiments. On June 8, a senior company lawyer faxed Sancho: "You have willfully and intentionally allowed the manipulation of memory cards related to your elections. . . . We believe this to have been a very foolish and irresponsible act."

Okay.  Did you get what happened there?  Let's say you wanted to make sure no one could cheat on the results of an election.  You make a machine that counts the votes.  That's good.  Once a citizen votes, no one can go into the machine and change the results of the votes, without getting caught, easily, right? 

Wrong.  All you need to do is get physical possession of the machine.  Like any election volunteer.

And Diebold is outraged.  Outraged, that an election official in Florida would allow someone to alter the file on the memory card-- just like any unauthorized person could do in a real election.  Outraged that an election official would dare to expose the fact that an outrageously expensive system for counting votes doesn't even have basic data security built in, something that Microsoft, incredibly, has finally mastered itself in Windows 2000. 

If you wrote a program in Visual Basic to handle voting on a Microsoft Windows computer and stored the results in an Oracle or SQL Server table, almost any reasonably good programmer could encrypt the table so that only a technician with administrative access could possibly alter the data in a raw table. 

Diebold has made a lot of money off of this scam.    And you and me and everyone, including the tooth fairy, knows who will end up paying the costs of developing a new system that is actually secure.. 

You  and me, baby.


All contents copyright 2006 Bill Van Dyk  All rights reserved.