RE: Avante Releases White Papers on AVVPAT...

From: John Payson <jpayson_at_circad_dot_com>
Date: Tue Jun 15 2004 - 17:19:00 CDT

> (2) Elections workers inspect machines to make sure that the IS NO
> harddisk drive inside the chasis. Probably it takes someone with a
> bit of extra training to know what a harddisk looks like; but it ain't
> rocket science.

This is getting harder. Flash memory is becoming more and more common, and
it's very hard to recognize. <<

It's not going to be possible to reliably recognize Flash without an x-ray, and
I don't know if an x-ray performed with the chip on the board would be able to
show enough. Removing the chip from the board for x-raying would pose its own
problems, of course. [BTW, yes chip numbers on Flash parts are distinct from
those of SRAMs, but forging chip markings is pretty easy].

> (6) Now, for the first time, the election workers actually *run* the
> software on the CD by carrying it over to voting station, and booting
> from CD-ROM device...

Now, imagine you're, say, Miami-Dade County, with over 7000 voting machines and
over 700 precincts. You have a warehouse full of voting supplies. Think about
how this procedure works in that context. <<

One-stop shopping for election crooks. They swap out motherboards for ones
that have a special BIOS and flash chip installed at some convenient time long
before the election. The Flash chip looks for two special types of CD-ROM: the
first will reprogram the Flash with CD-ROM contents; the second will run Flash
code instead of what's actually on the CD-ROM. Other than these two hacks, the
system will appear to operate normally.

Shortly before an election, the crooks get a copy of the 'official' software,
prepare their own 'preferred' version, and make a CD-ROM that will program the
Flash to substitute their 'preferred' software for the real one. Everything
will appear to operate normally (the system will read but ignore the data from
the real CD-ROM) but in reality, the system will be running the hacked code.

Other than by x-raying voting equipment, how are you going to prevent that sort
of trickery?
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:16 2004

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