In a turn of events reminiscent of the 2004 presidential elections, Diebold has once again supplied our government with laughably insecure voting machines. Their new model, the AccuVote TS, has been cracked using off-the-shelf computer hardware costing $10.50. “Anyone with a eighth grade education could construct the cards using standard tools and off-the-shelf components,” say researchers. When assembled, the small cards can be inserted between the touch screen and the microprocessor, allowing them to modify the information being sent between the two.
With another $15 or so, the attacker can also include hardware that allows him or her to remotely access the machine from up to half a mile away. The only problem with these attacks, however, is the attacker has to physically install the card in every machine. Although it doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time to install, access still has to be obtained. If the machines were stored securely in the time before the election it would be a lot more difficult to pull off this type of attack, but many are simply left to sit out in the voting area for an inordinate amount of time before the ballots are cast. In addition, Diebold’s machine is all electronic and lacks physical paper printouts of the ballots, making it even harder to audit.
Exposing the insecurity of these machines is a step in the right direction, but our government really needs to take this information and either secure or restructure our voting system. Our President should be elected by the people, not by crooks who exploit the system and pull wool over the people’s eyes. It’s been two terms since the last major e-voting scandal and it looks like they’re heading for another one.