The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 September 2006

By comparison, Windows is ironclad

If you didn't trust Diebold voting machines before — I didn'tthis won't make you feel any better about them:

The access panel door on a Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine — the door that protects the memory card that stores the votes, and is the main barrier to the injection of a virus — can be opened with a standard key that is widely available on the Internet.

Yes, really:

Chris Tengi, a technical staff member, asked to look at the key that came with the voting machine. He noticed an alphanumeric code printed on the key, and remarked that he had a key at home with the same code on it. The next day he brought in his key and sure enough it opened the voting machine.

This seemed like a freakish coincidence — until we learned how common these keys are.

Chrisís key was left over from a previous job, maybe fifteen years ago. He said the key had opened either a file cabinet or the access panel on an old VAX computer. A little research revealed that the exact same key is used widely in office furniture, electronic equipment, jukeboxes, and hotel minibars. Itís a standard part, and like most standard parts itís easily purchased on the Internet. We bought several keys from an office furniture key shop — they open the voting machine too. We ordered another key on eBay from a jukebox supply shop. The keys can be purchased from many online merchants.

This isn't quite as stupid as setting the default password to PASSWORD, but it's close.

These machines, and the people who tried to pass them off as secure, should be locked away — and the keys should be thrown away.

(Via E. M. Zanotti.)

Update, 19 September: Tim Blair sees an upside: "Presumably Diebold voting machine keys can open minibars. That was probably the plan all along."

Posted at 3:51 PM to Dyssynergy

This isn't quite as stupid as setting the default password to PASSWORD, but it's close.


Posted by: McGehee at 11:20 AM on 19 September 2006

This is outrageous. Now when you rig an election, there's no assurance you'll get what you paid for. It's un-American, dammit.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 8:55 PM on 19 September 2006