Fintech London

Forget democracy. LET’S JUST HAVE A HACKATHON.

Has technology rendered US democracy obsolete? Touch the screen to vote Yes.

Even putting aside the social engineering on Twitter and Facebook and the Internet in general, the actual process of voting is, in itself, insecure.

The hanging fat chad fiasco of the Bush / Gore 2000 election lead to the mainstream introduction of digital voting supported by $4b in government money. How’s that 15 year old technology getting on, in terms of security?

“It doesn’t matter whether the voting machines are connected to the Internet. Shortly before each election, poll workers copy the ballot design from a regular desktop computer in a government office, and use removable media (like the memory card from a digital camera) to load the ballot onto each machine. That initial computer is almost certainly not well secured, and if an attacker infects it, vote- stealing malware can hitch a ride to every voting machine in the area. There’s no question that this is possible for technically sophisticated attackers. (If my Ph.D. students and I were criminals, I’m sure we could pull it off.) If anyone reasonably skilled is sufficiently motivated and willing to face the risk of getting caught, it’s happened already.”

If you’re reading this in print the link above leads to Politico.com, specifically an article by Ben Wofford published on August 05, 2016 (How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes) describing in detail how Princeton professor Andrew Appel and his team of computer scientists not only bought a voting machine online and hacked it to play Pacman, they also spent the last 14 years trying to convince neomaniacs that all that has a touch screen is not secure, indeed the iPhone giving directions to the voting station is many times more so than any part of the voting process. For some of the voting machines, a minibar key opens them. And the code is garbage. And the entire electoral system is utterly vulnerable at so many points it’s basically up for grabs.

The solution by the way is paper. Vote Chad.

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