Crackers suspected of rigging Big Brother vote

A mailbomb could be responsible for Paul's popularity on the Big Brother Web site

The Big Brother Web team suspect crackers may have unleashed a mailbomb on the voting section of the site, in order to rig the vote for unpopular housemate Paul.

For the past month, the "Your Favourite" section of the Channel 4 Web site has consistently ranked Paul as the favourite contestant in the household, despite him being nominated for eviction three weeks in a row. The editor of the Big Brother site has admitted that this is out of sync with the number of telephone votes that he has received for his eviction, and admits that a simple html script may explain the discrepancies.

"Clearly something screwy is going on -- no one can make up their minds about the best way to deal with it," said Morgan Holt, editor of the site.

"Your favourite" -- a bar chart indicating the popularity of the various members of the household -- is an unregistered section of the site, making it an easy area for hackers to target. Holt suspects that pranksters may have designed a mailbomb to automatically update the "vote for Paul" button, in order to up his share of the vote.

"This is definitely out of sync with what's happened with Paul's popularity," agreed Holt. "Brian is clearly the most popular person, as he has a tremendous personality, and his is the most visited homepage."

Security expert Mark Read at computer security company MIS Corporate Defence Solutions explains how simple it is for anyone with basic html expertise to rig Internet polls. "It requires the writing of a script, that will continuously post information to the backend script, and post it on the html page displaying the voting form."

The Big Brother Web team has accepted that the design of this section of the site may be at fault, and is considering redesign options. "We're getting our heads around this one," said Holt.

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