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Monday, July 31, 2006

"Worst ever security flaw found in Diebold voting machine"
Posted by Jill | 3:27 PM
PRESS RELEASE -- JULY 31, 2006



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Subject: WORST EVER SECURITY FLAW FOUND IN DIEBOLD TS VOTING MACHINE

Contact: Alan Dechert

Reference: PICTURES
(Click on thumbnail. Click again on lower half of picture for high resolution)



SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA -- “This may be the worst security flaw we have seen in touch screen voting machines,” says Open Voting Foundation president, Alan Dechert. Upon examining the inner workings of one of the most popular paperless touch screen voting machines used in public elections in the United States, it has been determined that with the flip of a single switch inside, the machine can behave in a completely different manner compared to the tested and certified version.


“Diebold has made the testing and certification process practically irrelevant,” according to Dechert. “If you have access to these machines and you want to rig an election, anything is possible with the Diebold TS -- and it could be done without leaving a trace. All you need is a screwdriver.” This model does not produce a voter verified paper trail so there is no way to check if the voter’s choices are accurately reflected in the tabulation.


Open Voting Foundation is releasing 22 high-resolution close up pictures of the system. This picture, in particular, shows a “BOOT AREA CONFIGURATION” chart painted on the system board.


The most serious issue is the ability to choose between "EPROM" and "FLASH" boot configurations. Both of these memory sources are present. All of the switches in question (JP2, JP3, JP8, SW2 and SW4) are physically present on the board. It is clear that this system can ship with live boot profiles in two locations, and switching back and forth could change literally everything regarding how the machine works and counts votes. This could be done before or after the so-called "Logic And Accuracy Tests".


A third possible profile could be field-added in minutes and selected in the "external flash" memory location, the interface for which is present on the motherboard.


This is not a minor variation from the previously documented attack point on the newer Diebold TSx. To its credit, the TSx can only contain one boot profile at a time. Diebold has ensured that it is extremely difficult to confirm what code is in a TSx (or TS) at any one time but it is at least theoretically possible to do so. But in the TS, a completely legal and certified set of files can be instantly overridden and illegal uncertified code be made dominant in the system, and then this situation can be reversed leaving the legal code dominant again in a matter of minutes.


“These findings underscore the need for open testing and certification. There is no way such a security vulnerability should be allowed. These systems should be recalled”


OPEN VOTING FOUNDATION is a nonprofit non stock California corporation dedicated to demonstrating the need for and benefits of voting technology that can be publicly scrutinized.


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So what does this mean to the layman? Well, you know those little "flash drives" that you use to copy files from one PC to another? If you don't, they are mini-hard drives housed in a casing about the length and width of a tongue depressor cut in half. They plug into the USB port of your PC and become just another drive that you can look at in Windows Explorer. What this means is that by opening up the PC that houses the voting machine software and flipping a switch, you can set the voting machine to boot from the internally-configured drive to an external flash drive instead. So someone could very easily plug in a flash drive and reboot the PC after the polls close to manipulate the totals, then shut it down and walk away.

This is not "vulnerability to hacking." This is "open to rigging" -- and Diebold isn't even trying very hard to hide the fact that their machines can be rigged, and that they are DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY for this purpose. Diebold makes most of the ATMs in this country, and I don't know about you, but I have never once had to deal with an ATM error. So it isn't that Diebold doesn't know how to make a secure machine running secure software.

This machine was developed EXACTLY according to spec. Now who gave them the specs?
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