Election Day CyberFest: Hackers, Hacking, 'Journalism,' The FBI, And Jiveass Baloney

from the The-Year-to-End-All-Years dept

As this election's perfect argument for the dismantling of the two-party system has shuddered to a halt, the overriding issue appeared not to be a race run pretty much on no issues at all, but an unhealthy amount of paranoia.

Between the FBI's inadvertently bipartisan investigation (and reinvestigation) of Hillary Clinton's emails, the constant cry that the Russians are coming (two if by underwater cable), and Donald Trump's insistence that the election is rigged (until he won), voting (and voting machines) are the cyber-est thing of all this election season.

If no one's tampering with the machines, someone's tampering with the voters. Trump greeted early returns with a lawsuit over the supposed illegality of letting everyone lined up to vote actually vote before closing the booths. The bold new face of bounty-based "journalism" -- spearheaded by Pax Dickinson and questionable lawsuit enthusiast Chuck Johnson -- spent all day offering a $6720 bounty for evidence of voter fraud. At this point it remains uncollected, and the law of diminishing returns has sapped the energy from retweeters.

Add into the fun a set of researchers finding (SHOCKER!) voting machines to be terribly insecure. That in itself isn't new, but letting everyone in on how exactly to do it certainly is.

The problem relates to a 16MB Compact Flash card that each AVC Edge machine relies upon, which can be easily removed, modified and replaced for the purpose of modifying voter counts.

“After about four days and about $25 worth of hardware we had the machines spitting out results that cannot be technically refuted,” Ryan Smith, vice president of research at Cylance, tells Newsweek.

“It is an odd state of affairs when the technology in your phone is so strong that the FBI, with an $8.3 billion budget and months of work, cannot find a way into the machine protecting your text messages, yet the machines protecting our democracy can be foiled with just $25 in 32 hours.”

While we all can appreciate the offhand suggestion that it's the government that should be "nerding harder," plenty of people seemed upset that the researchers would drop this news into the already-overboiling election pot.

“This disclosure seems political in nature,” bug-bounty expert Katie Moussouris told The Verge. “Releasing this publicly, after DHS and states have been aware of these types of attacks for years, only serves to fuel the fires of doubting the election results.”

Hackers for Trump or whatever. This concern seems misplaced, given the inherent hackability of voting machines. It certainly grabs more eyeballs than it would in an off year, but there's nothing in here that suggests the release's timing was motivated by Trump's claims that voter fraud would be the only explanation for him not collecting more of the popular vote.

Finally, we get to the nadir of election paranoia. And, of course, it involves the FBI.

A tweet suggesting hacking of voting machines was in the works was sent out on October 21st. With impeccable timing, the FBI apparently showed up at the tweeter's door on election day.

This tweet just earned ya boy Jive a visit from the motherfucking FBI. Not even joking.

So, a photo of some USB drives and screencap of supposed code was enough to motivate the feds into investigating almost three weeks later. Things were cleared up when it became apparent a.) it was a joke and b.) the screencapped code wouldn't even work.

But if you're going to draw the heat, you may as well do in style. Choose your social media handle for maximum federal uncomfortableness, kids.

First question they asked me was "Are you the Twitter user, uh Jiveass *checked notes*...Baloney?

So, we have a new president-elect. At least that much is out of the way. There are only 45 shopping days till Christmas and an eon to go before this stupid year finally ends.

Filed Under: e-voting, elections, hacking, voter fraud, voting machines


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2016 @ 11:58am

    So much fun with this one!

    Trump winning this election because the voting machines were easily hacked would be such sweet karma.

    During the 'Bammy' presidency they had the opportunity to put a stop the weak, joke of a security on these machines but did nothing of the kind.

    And if Trump loses the next election due to hacking then the same sweet karma can be had again! I have a hard time feeling sorry a bunch of losers that failed to secure the process in which they may be roasted!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 9 Nov 2016 @ 12:18pm

    This stupid year?

    There are only 45 shopping days till Christmas and an eon to go before this stupid year finally ends.

    I think the year of stupid is about to come.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2016 @ 7:04pm

      Re: This stupid year?

      I think the years of stupid is about to come.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DebbyS (profile), 10 Nov 2016 @ 10:53am

      Re: This stupid year?

      I think next year will also be the year of "don't blame me, I didn't vote for him!" (even though many of those who claim that actually did vote for him, threatened civil war if he lost, and crowed about his win, too...).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sigalrm (profile), 9 Nov 2016 @ 12:20pm

    Insecure voting machines are nothing new

    "Add into the fun a set of researchers finding (SHOCKER!) voting machines to be terribly insecure. That in itself isn't new, but letting everyone in on how exactly to do it certainly is."

    People having been ringing the "holy crap voting machines are insecure bell" publicly for more than a decade.

    See: https://citp.princeton.edu/research/voting/

    Their paper was published in Sep., 2006, but was pretty much ignored by mainstream media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 9 Nov 2016 @ 4:52pm

    Two party system

    A two party system... is only one party better than a one party system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2016 @ 7:36pm

    “This disclosure seems political in nature,” bug-bounty expert Katie Moussouris told The Verge. “Releasing this publicly, after DHS and states have been aware of these types of attacks for years, only serves to fuel the fires of doubting the election results.”

    And the ones who released the info are supposed to be the bad ones? If the government and states have known about the vulnerabilities for years you can be sure that those who might use the vulnerabilities have known just as long if not longer, so the only ones who are getting information that they didn't already have are the public(kinda like the Snowden leaks in that sense).

    Releasing it at that point strikes me as less political and more an attempt to force people to pay attention. 'Hey, the voting machines are laughably vulnerable to tampering' is likely to be ignored and/or brushed off with a 'We'll look into it, now go away' during a non-election period, but releasing the same info during a presidential election period puts eyes on the problem and forces the government/states to actually pretend to do something to assuage the concerns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.