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Worst Ever Security Flaw Found In Diebold Touchscreen Voting Machine PDF Print Email
By Open Voting Consortium   
July 31, 2006
"This may be the worst security flaw we have seen in touch screen voting machines," says Open Voting Foundation president, Alan Dechert (pictured at right). Upon examining the inner workings of one of the most popular paperless touch screen voting machines used in public elections in the United States, it has been determined that with the flip of a single switch inside, the machine can behave in a completely different manner compared to the tested and certified version.

"Diebold has made the testing and certification process practically irrelevant," according to Dechert. "If you have access to these machines and you want to rig an election, anything is possible with the Diebold TS -- and it could be done without leaving a trace. All you need is a screwdriver." This model does not produce a voter verified paper trail so there is no way to check if the voter’s choices are accurately reflected in the tabulation.

Open Voting Foundation is releasing 22 high-resolution close up pictures of the system. This picture in particular shows a “BOOT AREA CONFIGURATION” chart painted on the system board.

The most serious issue is the ability to choose between "EPROM" and "FLASH" boot configurations. Both of these memory sources are present. All of the switches in question (JP2, JP3, JP8, SW2 and SW4) are physically present on the board. It is clear that this system can ship with live boot profiles in two locations, and switching back and forth could change literally everything regarding how the machine works and counts votes. This could be done before or after the so-called "Logic And Accuracy Tests".

A third possible profile could be field-added in minutes and selected in the "external flash" memory location, the interface for which is present on the motherboard.

This is not a minor variation from the previously documented attack point on the newer Diebold TSx. To its credit, the TSx can only contain one boot profile at a time. Diebold has ensured that it is extremely difficult to confirm what code is in a TSx (or TS) at any one time but it is at least theoretically possible to do so. But in the TS, a completely legal and certified set of files can be instantly overridden and illegal uncertified code be made dominant in the system, and then this situation can be reversed leaving the legal code dominant again in a matter of minutes.

“These findings underscore the need for open testing and certification. There is no way such a security vulnerability should be allowed. These systems should be recalled”
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