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Gaming Idol With Dialers

If you’re wondering why Sanjaya Malakar has done surprisingly well in American Idol, here’s one possible answer: dialers. Dialers are pieces of software usually stealthily installed on a victim’s computer to automatically dial expensive premium telephone numbers. The victim only finds out when they receive their phone bill. In this case, the dialer, openly available on a reputable download site, is a voluntary install designed to automate the voting process in Idol: Sanjaya War Dialer uses your computers modem to automatically dial the American Idol voting number over and over and over again until you tell it to stop. Automatically cast hundreds or even thousandsContinue readingGaming Idol With Dialers

Why Is The Bush Campaign Website Blocked?

I know it’s not particularly new, but why is George W Bush’s website inaccessible outside the U.S.? Netcraft reported last week that the site could not be reached except by users in North America. Even entering the numbered IP address appears to have been blocked. (GeorgeWBush.co.uk works fine, as does GeorgeWBush.org, but then they’re not exactly under Bush’s control.) Netcraft’s Prettejohn is quoted by the BBC as speculating it could be an effort to ensure the website stays online during the last few days of the election campaign. But what about all the overseas voters? A Bush campaign spokesman is quoted as saying that itContinue readingWhy Is The Bush Campaign Website Blocked?

The Price Of Democracy

An interesting essay by security guru Bruce Schneier (via the brianstorms weblog) on the economics of fixing an election. Put simply: How much is it worth a party to fix an election, and so how much would they be willing to spend on doing it? Put another way, how much should the folk designing an electronic voting system assume will be spent on trying to get past the security software? Bruce does the math and concludes ”that affecting the balance of power in the House of Representatives is worth at least $100M to the party who would otherwise be losing. So when designing the security behind theContinue readingThe Price Of Democracy

Pentagon Scraps Internet Voting Plan

Further to earlier postings about security fears for a new Internet voting system for overseas Americans, AP is quoting an anonymous official as saying the Pentagon has scrapped the plan. CNET attributes the same story to a spokesperson for the Pentagon. AP quoted the official as saying Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz made the decision to scrap the system because Pentagon officials were not certain they could “assure the legitimacy of votes that would be cast.” CNET quoted a spokesperson as saying pretty much the same thing:  “The action was taken in view of the inability to ensure the legitimacy of the votes cast.”  About 6Continue readingPentagon Scraps Internet Voting Plan

Internet Voting: A Minority Report?

A reader kindly pointed out this New York Times piece on the Internet voting story I posted yesterday, which highlights some other aspects of the case. While four members of a panel asked to review the SERVE program — designed to allow Americans overseas to vote over the Net — said it was insecure and should be abandoned, the NYT quoted Accenture, the main contractor, as saying the researchers drew unwarranted conclusions about future plans for the voting project. “We are doing a small, controlled experiment,” Meg McLauglin, president of Accenture eDemocracy Services, was quoted as saying. Another side to this pointed out by theContinue readingInternet Voting: A Minority Report?

“Internet Voting Isn’t Safe”

The e-voting saga continues. Four computer scientists say in a new report that a federally funded online absentee voting system scheduled to debut in less than two weeks “has security vulnerabilities that could jeopardize voter privacy and allow votes to be altered”. They say the risks associated with Internet voting cannot be eliminated and urge that the system be shut down. The report’s authors are computer scientists David Wagner, Avi Rubin and David Jefferson from the University of California, Berkeley; The Johns Hopkins University and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, respectively, and Barbara Simons, a computer scientist and leading technology policy consultant. They are membersContinue reading“Internet Voting Isn’t Safe”

Electronic Voting And The Criminal Connection

The story of electronic voting machines, and the company that makes many of them, continues to roll along. I wrote in a column a few weeks back (Beware E-Voting, 20 November 2003, Far Eastern Economic Review; subscription required) about Bev Harris, a 52-year old grandmother from near Seattle, who discovered 40,000 computer files at the website of a Diebold Inc subsidiary, Global Elections Systems Inc, beginning a public campaign against a company she believed was responsible for a seriously flawed e-voting system., already in use in several states. Anyway, now she’s turned up more explosive material, it seems. The Associated Press yesterday quoted her asContinue readingElectronic Voting And The Criminal Connection

Diebold Confirms Dropping E-voting Suit

 Diebold, the electronic voting company and the subject of a recent Loose Wire column, have confirmed that they’ve decided not to sue folk who published leaked documents about the alleged security breaches of electronic voting.    AP reports (no URL available yet) that a Diebold spokesman promised in a conference call Monday with U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel and attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that it would not sue dozens of students, computer scientists and ISP operators who received cease-and-desist letters from August to October.  Diebold did not disclose specifics on why it had dropped its legal case, but the decision is a major reversalContinue readingDiebold Confirms Dropping E-voting Suit

Update: Diebold Withdraws E-voting Suit?

 Further to my column about e-voting a few weeks back, Diebold, maker of electronic voting machines, has apparently withdrawn its suit against an ISP and some individuals for posting leaked company documents about some of the problems with their system. Stanford Law School reports that Diebold had filed papers with the court saying it ?has decided not to take the additional step of suing for copyright infringement for the materials at issue. Given the widespread availability of the stolen materials, Diebold has further decided to withdraw its existing DMCA notifications and not to issue any further ones for those materials.?   No mention of thisContinue readingUpdate: Diebold Withdraws E-voting Suit?

Loose Wire: The State We

Loose Wire: The State We Could Be in By Jeremy Wagstaff from the 28 March 2002 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review, (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Voting in your underwear? Sounds an appealing proposition: the chance to exercise your constitutionally protected right without actually having to leave your home. You could be watching Frasier while working out which candidate you want to mess things up for you for the next three/four/25 years, based on criteria such as which one most closely resembles a Teletubby/Frasier’s brother Niles/your Aunt Maudlin. Yes, the lure of Internet voting is coming around again. In May, soccerContinue readingLoose Wire: The State We

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