Diebold e-Voting Machines Can Be Opened With Standard Hotel Key Available Online

from the great-security dept

As Diebold continues to try (weakly) to defend itself from yet another batch of evidence that their security isn't particularly secure, Ed Felten points out another weakness in Diebold's defense. The company likes to claim that on top of the computer security aspect (which study after study has found is lacking) they have "physical" security. Avi Rubin's report from the field last week showed that the "security tape" and "security tags" on the machines aren't particularly secure at all (removing them and replacing them without anyone noticing is easy -- and apparently done quite often). However, a colleague of Felten has also noticed that the "lock" on the box uses an off-the-shelf standard key seen for things like hotel minibars. Apparently, it's quite easy to buy an identical key online or at an office furniture shop. In other words, the physical security isn't so secure. It's just designed to look secure, so they can say it's secure.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    James, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 12:38pm

    Why isn't this company held accountable?

    Stupid politicians... hmmm, or maybe not so stupid, this is probably just how they like it.

     

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  2.  
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    jsnbase, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 12:40pm

    How many times do we have to see this?

    The whole Diebold thing long ago moved into the realm of farce. I won't bother crying conspiracy, since incompetence seems much more likely, but how bad does it have to get before we toss these guys? The Maginot Line was more secure.

     

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  3.  
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    Brandon Rusnak, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 2:49pm

    Why don't they?

    Why don't they just bring voting onto the internet? If these machines arn't more secure than the average home user's PC why not just bring voting online?

    Think about it. We could even have a direct democracy and bypass politicians all together.

     

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  4.  
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    Faz, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 3:02pm

    Why is it so hard to make a bloody voting machine... my friends and i can make one.... ARGH

     

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  5.  
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    Matt, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 3:19pm

    Re:

    It isn't difficult to make a voting machine... Not even particularly difficult to make a secure one.

    Diebold gets a cut on the front end from counties purchasing machines, and a cut on the back end from the politicians who want to win the election any way possible. Great business plan...

     

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  6.  
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    Grandfather Time, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Why don't they?

    That would work, if it was not for the simple fact that this is The United States of America.......

     

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  7.  
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    lar3ry, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Why don't they?

    According to Heinlein, if the question is "Why don't they...?" the answer is always, "Money."

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Why don't they?

    Because, you oblivious moron, the internet is not a truck.

    (for those of you just joining us at home: that was a joke, with actual valid reference and deep meaning that is on topic)

     

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  9.  
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    Amos, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Why don't they?

    Umm...America is NOT a democracy. This is a republic at best. If it were a democracy, then there would be no such thing as someone winning the "popular vote" (ie, getting the most real votes) but losing the "electoral vote" (ie, the archaic system in which we vote for people to go vote for us). The will of the majority has no real value in America's political system, except as a tactical ratings boost when it happens to match the ambitions of the people in charge.

    If more people understood our voting system, then there would be demand for change. But the polititions do NOT want that to happen...why should they, when they're basically the only ones who know the rules of the game?

    It doesn't matter if our votes are counted perfectly or made up by a random number generator at this point, because the system is broken. Debating the security of voting machines is just a distraction from the real task: we need to debate the very structure of our voting system!

     

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  10.  
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    Angry Rivethead, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:53pm

    Here is something to debate...

    How many people do we REALLY want voting?

    Given the rule that people are generally stupid...do we really want a true democracy?


    Also, readers of this site are probably slightly more intelligent than say inner city folk and trailer trash that continually vote for more handouts...do we really want people that desire free handouts voting? I certainly don't. I pay enough property tax to put kids that I don't have through school. If I were to take my property tax and invest it, I'd have more than enough to pay for schooling for the children I may have in the future. Why can't anyone else be trusted to do this?

    Landowners ONLY should vote in local elections.

    A more extensive civics course needs to be required at the highschool level or independantly partially subsidized by the gov't. The basis of this course costing a few hundred dollars is to only allow people who actually care to vote. If someone can't figure out how to raise $200 or so by the time they're 18...I really don't think I feel comfortable having them anywhere near a ballot box. I'll stop now... *hides under asbestos plate*

     

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  11.  
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    lil'bit, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:26pm

    RE: Here is something to debate...

    There you go - landowners only. And then, we can also start counting black people as 3/5 of a person; women too.
    I am not a property owner but I know more than the average person - are you sure I couldn't vote wisely?

     

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  12.  
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    OmniPresent Systems, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:51pm

    The Road Political e-Monarchy

    Making a secure online voting machine is actually a rather difficult task. http://evm2003.sourceforge.net/architecture.html
    The lack of funding and the donation of time from developers has enabled politicians to control who wins public bids forvoting machines.

    Many efforts have popped up on sites such as
    http://evm2003.sourceforge.net/
    http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/
    http://www.openvotingfounda tion.org/

    Diebold obtained its certification wrongfully by not declaring some of the custom components of their software as custom components. This exempted these components from oversight by independent testing authorities (ITAs) assigned to the task.

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 6:56pm

    Re: How many times do we have to see this?

    When speaking of politicians, never attribute to incompetence what can be adequately explained by greed and corruption.

    They're not nearly as incompetent as they'd have you believe.

     

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  14.  
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    ebrke, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 6:54am

    Everyone Must Be Able to Vote

    Again, the slippery slope. If you start restricting who can or should be able to vote, you start down a slope where eventually the only people who will be allowed to vote are the politicians themselves, so they can just keep voting themselves back into office. I personally am unhappy with the idea of having to have ballots and instructions in different languages--if people don't have a sufficient grasp of English to vote in that language, it makes me uncomfortable--where are they getting the information they use to decide how to vote if they don't have basic English comprehension? But again, they're citizens and they should be able to vote, so I swallow it.

     

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  15.  
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    Ihip98, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 8:07am

    Seems like no one mentioned...

    Seems like no one mentioned the irony that Diebold's main business and heritage is in making locks and safes.

     

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  16.  
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    TechNoFear (profile), Sep 20th, 2006 @ 1:55am

    Diebold makes ATM (automated Teller Machines) for banks.

    Can you tell me where I can buy a key for one of those?

    Diebold can obviously create a machine secure enough to dispense money and keep a paper trail the bank can follow.

    So Diebold is not incompetent.

    Why do they have difficulty with vote machines then?

    The obvious answer, in my opinion, is that Diebold is corrupt.

     

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  17.  
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    PV, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 7:28am

    if it ain't brokeā€¦

    Why, in the first place, use a computer in the voting process? I thought a basic rule of applied science was to choose the right technology to solve a problem. What is the problem here ? High-speed calculation? Certainly not. The point is: collect votes and count them in a way that makes every citizen confident in the final result. CONFIDENT. Do you think a computer, which is a black box and nobody knows what's inside, is a good way to produce CONFIDENCE. No way.
    On the contrary, I would like to emphasize the great contribution to democracy of another technology, namely chemistry, which permitted the invention of the TRANSPARENT ballot box.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Sep 21st, 2006 @ 11:20pm

    Not even a 1337 g33k can understand this...

    I am a self-proclaimed computer geek, and I am a registered voter in the independent city of Virginia Beach, VA. Last May, when the city council and school board elections were taking place, it had to take some explanation on how to use the dang thing, and I still couldn't understand how the system worked. Being exposed to computers at an early age (age four with a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer, then an Apple IIe [I seem old--but I'm only 29!]), I should be able to know how to use the machine without any explanation from the election official that happened to volunteer that day. Now the idea of the machines can be hacked by a simple key that I can purchase at my local office supply store? WTF? Now this sounds odd. FWIW, the people I voted for in that election may now have meant nothing. Something is going down. And now since everything can now be done online (well, almost anything), why not take the elections online? It may save the taxpayers some money. Oh, wait. There may be some n00bs who don't even know how to do so. To put it this way: we live in a corrupt society and these politicians will do anything that it takes to win the elections, at any cost. Just ask George Allen and Jim Webb... Phil Kellam and Thelma Drake.

     

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