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Computer scientists prove Diebold machines can be hacked

Princeton's Ed Felten shows machines are vulnerable to attack, viruses can even spread from machine to machine. Diebold says those vulnerabilities have been fixed.
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Written by Richard Koman on
Princeton University computer science professor Ed Felten said Wednesday that he and two graduate students hacked into a Diebold voting machine. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Felten and two of his graduate students recently posted a paper on the university's website describing how they uploaded malicious programs and even developed a computer virus able to spread such programs between machines. These viruses could be used to alter votes and/or disable the machines which are used across the U.S.

In response to the paper, Mark Radke, the marketing director for Diebold Election Systems of Allen, Texas said, "I'm concerned by the fact we weren't contacted to educate these people on where our current technology stands," Mark Radke said.

Questioning Felten's tactics, Radke wondered why Felten hadn't submitted his paper for peer review, which is standard practice.

Felten said he and his colleagues felt it necessary to publish the paper as quickly as possible because of the possible implications for the November midterm elections.

Two Diebold voting machines will be widely used in the upcoming elections— the AccuVote-TS and thee newer AccuVote-TSx. Felten hadn't tested the later but said he thought much of what he found would still apply.

"I think there are many people out there who have the type of technical ability to carry out the sort of attacks we describe here," said Felten.

In any case many states will use the older machine.

See more ZDNet articles on Diebold voting machines

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