Re: Interesting, But What About the Election-Day Virus?

From: Ken Pugh <kpughmisc_at_pughkilleen_dot_com>
Date: Thu Dec 09 2004 - 10:20:15 CST

The story of Clint Curtis (the coder who made the hack) is interesting. But
to use the hack would require the collusion of a number of people. With a
large number of people involved, the information on how to use the hack
would probably be exposed.

The story did get me thinking. So I offer the following article as a

The Election-Day Virus Could Strike

The Election-Day virus could strike electronic voting machines that record
the votes of this nation's citizens. Other computer viruses have shut down
systems and caused billions of dollars in damage. The Election-Day virus
could alter the outcome of the election by shifting the votes.

The virus is practically undetectable. It is activated only on election
day and then it deletes its existence. Tests run before or after election
day would not detect any anomalies.

The virus alters the vote totals by slight amounts. The amounts are within
the margin of error of exit polls, so the discrepancy can be explained by
chance. In a close election, the amount is sufficient for the losing
candidate to be turned into the winning candidate. The amounts are
randomized, so that no pattern is easily detectable.

Like many computer viruses, it relies on common coding mistakes, such as
allowing a buffer overflow. The virus itself is hidden in a data
file. When the file is loaded into the voting program, the buffer overflow
occurs and allows the virus to alter the logic of the program.

A sophisticated hacker could be the author of the Election Day virus. An
insider at the voting machine vendor could transfer it to the voting
system. The insider could have provided the hacker with the program's
source code so that the virus could easily be programmed to perform its
intended task.

Depending on the structure of the development organization, as few as one
to three insiders would be needed to insure that the virus was present on
machines shipped to election officials. The virus could be distributed
without the knowledge of higher-level executives or of management involved
in the production of the system.

Does such a virus exist? Its existence is difficult to determine without
expert examination of electronic voting machines. Computer forensic
analysis of machines that were used in the election may yield some
clues. Examination of machines that were setup for the election, but not
used, could provide evidence that is more concrete.

The possibility of an examination occurring depends on a number of
factors. The machines must provide access to the internal memory and the
long-term storage. There must be a legal means, contractual or court
ordered, to perform the process. And there needs to be the money
contributed by a defeated candidate or concerned voters to pay for the
technical and legal expenses.

Without such an examination, the winning candidate might be just the choice
of the virus writer and not the choice of the electorate.


> > > Bev Harris discusses why this doesn't hold water and one of the points
> > > is that the journalist did not provide any details about the code.
> > > However, Clint Curtis (the coder who made the hack) did publish the
> > > code:
> > >
> > >
> > > It does what he say it does: hidden buttons let you change the vote.
> > > Which is on of the counterpoints by Bev (that he didn't provide the
> > > code). As to what precincts and on what machines, that is another
> > > issue.
> > >
> > > ? Regards
> > >
> >
> >
> > Another point in favor of Clint Curtis' story is that the problems with
> > miscounted votes in Volusia County where he claims they applied his
> > program, are well-documented in the 2000 election.
> >
> > In fact, Gore might be President today if not for the miscounted votes in
> > Volusia which, until they were corrected, caused Bush to seem ahead in the
> > election at a time when Gore was actually ahead, if the votes had been
> > accurately reported. The networks called the race for Bush, and Gore
> > conceded during the time when the Volusia votes were being misreported.
> > By the time Gore unconceded, many additional un-dated (and questionably
> > not cast by the deadline) absentee overseas ballots were being added to
> > Bush's total and Bush got his 500 vote margin of victory.
> >
> > Without the mysterious still unexplained miscount in the central tabulator
> > (that was later corrected by re-uploading all the precinct results) in
> > Volusia in 2000, we might have a different President today.
> >
> >
> > Kathy
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
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Received on Fri Dec 31 23:17:08 2004

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