Clips: How To Hack A Diebold Machine

Ed Felton of Princeton University goes on Fox and shows just how easy it is to hack those Diebold Voting Machines with a virus and a hotel mini bar key, reversing history to guarantee Benedict Arnold the coveted 1789 election.

My favorite party is when the camera flashes to the two grinning nerds who actually figured it all out, awkwardly sitting by the sidelines. Thanks for saving democracy, you dorks.


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  1. dancemonkey says:

    He shows nothing of the kind… he demonstrates that a hacked machine switches votes. I thought we were watching a demonstration of how easy it is to hack the machine?

  2. The Bans says:

    So let me get this straight, a “hacker” has to get into the computer in order to implant “This virus” that switches votes. I’m so democrats are loving this news. But how irresponsible is the news..

    For example, how does the evil republican loving hacker get into the machine, aside from by passing security who are protecting the machines. Also they make it seem as if ANYONE can do this but in all reality they can’t. It’s not like the machine is hooked up to the internet, if it is, then the developers should be hung. Also it doesn’t necessarilary need a hacker to upload load program that is capable of doing this and setting up a service to launch it at start up.

    What really irks me is the use of the term hacker as if there is some seedy hacker in his basement with his “I love bush” button on doing it remotely. A clear scare tactic by the news to implant a seed of doubt into the public that is ignorant on how this works. The news is being completely irresponsible in the handling of this news story..

  3. moejuda says:

    How on earth did this become about Democrats and Republicans? Did you just watch the same clip I did? It was on Fox news, not exactly a bastion of liberal views. This has nothing to do with partisan politics, and everything to do with the sanctity of the democratic process. The validity of the popular vote is the only thing that gives our government legitimacy. How can we risk pawning that off to a companies who’s machines have been repeatedly proven to be insecure?

    Plus, the guy saying the word “hacker” is the professor of Computer Science. In technical circles, a hacker is anyone who delves into a system and figures out how it works, often with the intent of manipulating it. Only Hollywood and the popular press use the word to describe nerds in the basement hoping to topple the world.

  4. “how does the evil republican loving hacker get into the machine”

    By law, you need to be in a private area to cast your vote. You can open the panel with a key (a mini-bar key was reported to have worked) and slip a memory card (like a cameras memory card) into the machine with a virus, restart the machine and take it out again and reswitch the card back to the origional one.

    With boot up time, it can be done within 45 secs. A video is on the main research page (I forget the link, but I can get it if you doubt what I’m saying) showing how fast this can be done.

    That is how you do it. No bypassing security because no one is allowed to watch you vote (and see who you vote for).

  5. Politics aside, I think Republicans, Democrats and even Republicrats can all agree that one single company shouldn’t hold a proprietary sway over the voting process. The issue becomes politicized because Diebold does have significant ties to the Republican party.

    But God forbid, if Bill Clinton himself had built the voting machines himself and sold them to the government, I would hope that the same issuse would be raised.

    Furthermore, it astounds me that Diebold is a leading provider of ATM and other financial system security. Do you think they would ever deploy an ATM that could be opened with a minibar key? Of course not. Why is it so hard to expect the same level of security– who is dropping the ball here and why the fuck is it so hard for them to understand.

    The machines should be built from the ground up by the government. I don’t care if thy have to pull NASA engineers off of their job, or even the Department of Defense, the sanctity of our voting process (as so well stated by Moe above) is at stake. Here’s a novel idea: The government should build the system, implement layers of encryption, and publicize how they are made and how they work for peer review.

    Afterwards, when the machines have built up a solid reputation we should sell them at a novel price to other countries that are under more serious threats of inside corruption. If Democracy is an American way of life then it should also be one of our chief exports. No bombs required.

  6. Anyway, the idea isn’t that someone does it when they vote. The idea is that someone before the machine even starts for the day has already infected the machine. The virus also spreads out, so all you need is the one person who gets the software for the state and decides to use this to make a certain person win.

    I’m an independent, but I tend to vote democrat. I would be as pissed off as I am now if kerry stole it away from bush. It’s not Rep. vs. Dem. It’s about making sure your vote is recorded correctly and the voting is fair.

  7. GenXCub says:

    Phillip is right, someone with access to the POST on these voting machines can write an executable “autoexec.bat” for those old DOS people from a memory card. Here was the linked story on how people could get into the box:

  8. “For example, how does the evil republican loving hacker get into the machine, aside from by passing security who are protecting the machines.”

    I’m not exactly sure where you vote that there’s security, but I’ve been an election judge, and someone could probably steal the entire polling station and get 90% of it loaded into their car before anyone noticed. Particularly during “close out” at the end of the day where all the locked boxes/machines full of votes are supposed to be being transported back to HQ, it’s very chaotic and often ill-supervised.

    During a slow election there will be like four judges and only two people working their way through the stations (checking of signatures, handing out voting cards, receiving verification receipts and/or paper ballots into the sealed box, handing out I Voted! stickers), but during a busy election, we can’t even see the voting booths past the massive line of people in front of us the way our polling station is set up.

  9. Brian Gee says:

    I haven’t seen these machines in action (my polling place doesn’t use them), but when I have voted, it has always been in a private booth with a curtain around it.

    The clip they showed is only the outcome of the hacking, but if Felton’s other claims are true, it sounds very easy to change the machine. Presumably one could do it while they are voting:

    – enter the booth and close the curtain
    – use a hotel key to open the side door on the machine (they didn’t show it, but apparently its easy with the same sort of key)
    – plug in the flash memory with the malicious code
    – flip a switch

    I may be simplifying, but if you do in fact have private access to the machine while voting its possible. Perhaps a “hacker” could go cast his “vote” late in the afternoon, so the machine appears to be fine most of the day, then skews the results of the second half of the day (when things get crazy anyway from people getting off work and rushing to the polls).

    I definitely want to see more about this, but its quite scary if its true.

  10. AcidReign says:

    …..Huh. That’s some fancy, newfangled shit! In Alabama, we fill out paper ballots, with a number two pencil, like some kind of SAT test or something. There are all sorts of folks on there that you’ve never heard of, and you pick out the ones you like the sound of best. It’s the ones that have “Red,” “Bubba,” and “Coon-dog” middle names, usually. (Jimmy “Coon-dog” Redneckerson for 9th Circuit Court, for instance.) We then feed the ballot into a scanner thingie, with a large, armed baliff/sheriff’s deputy-type looming behind the machine.

    …..In Alabama, we rig elections by saving all the obits, and having all the dead people request absentee ballots. Since the state only purges the voter rolls about every fifty years…

  11. Polymath says:

    Something Amazing:

    At the time of the 2004 election, I believe I heard that Australia did that same exact thing (Build an electronic voting system from the ground up and publicly testing it). The system was a huge sucess, but when they came to America to sell it we said NO. The system was proven to be 100% accurate and 100% hacker proof, and the US gov’t still said NO. Go figure.

  12. Poly: that’s quite interesting. Have a name for me to follow up on by any chance? Now you’ve got me curious.

  13. AgentTuttle says:

    Electronic voting will NEVER be fair voting. End of story.