Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why you shouldn't use a Diebold voting machine

... if you have any choice in the matter.

Ari Feldman, Alex Halderman, and Ed Felten have just released a paper on the security of e-voting technology. The paper is accompanied by a ten-minute video that demonstrates some of the vulnerabilities and attacks they discuss. These are highly-credible computer science researchers who have recently been focusing on electronic voting.

Their abstract:
This paper presents a fully independent security study of a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine, including its hardware and software. We obtained the machine from a private party. Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates. An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities — a voting-machine virus. We have constructed working demonstrations of these attacks in our lab. Mitigating these threats will require changes to the voting machine’s hardware and software and the adoption of more rigorous election procedures. [emphasis mine]
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