Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Vote For Us; We'll Vote For You

Charlie Kuffner of the Houston Chronicle interviews Dan Wallach (damned good interview, btw), associate perfesser of Computer Science at Rice University, via Crooks and Liars. Dan gives his grad students a voting program, "Hack-A-Vote". Sounds like it's the most popular computer science course Rice offers.

The first part of the assignment is for groups of the kids to hack the source code so that someone could later come back and job the count. The changes are to be as minimal and subtle as possible because part two of the assignment is for two other groups to audit the altered programs and try to find the hacks.

One group was particularly astute:

"DW: I mean, most students will find most things, but some things slip through. In fact, there have even been cases where students found a problem in the original voting machine as we gave it to them in the first place. So for phase one they did nothing; they submitted the voting machine as is.

CK: Wow.

DW: Because they didn't need to modify it because they already knew a way to attack it."

Kuff's World: Wallach interview transcription

God do we wish these kids could be turned loose on Diebold. Wouldn't that be a wonderful sight?


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