Click for Ann Arbor, Michigan Forecast
Wednesday May 24, 2017
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Print Comment E-mail

Evil Robot Wins Election!



And it's not every day an academic paper makes news around the world. But the caper reported by Halderman and three U-M collaborators in February was irresistible: they'd elected Bender--the alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking robot from the TV show Futurama--president of the Washington, D.C., school board.

The good news is it was only a test. The District's government was planning on using an online voting program in an actual 2010 school board election, and to demonstrate its invulnerability, they dared hackers to crack their system. Halderman, a youthful-looking U-M electrical engineering professor specializing in applied computer security, took the dare. He recruited grad students Scott Wolchok and Eric Wustrow and technical staffer Dawn Isabel to help. "All of them were instrumental in the success," he says. "I oversaw the project, but as always, it was the students who did all the work."

How'd they do it? "We found a way to create fake ballots that the system had to examine, and while it was doing so, we slipped a command onto their server to subvert their voting software. What we did was essentially take control of their server, and after that, we replaced all the votes with ballots of our own choosing based on who we thought the computer would vote for if it was evil: Bender, for instance." Getting a fictional robot elected school board president wasn't all they did. "Internet security tends to be very brittle," says Halderman, "and once we got inside, we got a lot of access." They not only accessed every voter's past voting history but also made sure that in the future "everybody would be voting for our candidates no matter who they voted for."

Bookmark and Share
previous  ·  1 l 2 l 3 l 4  ·  next page
all on one page
read more stories here -> Marketplace  l  Culture  l  Community  l  News

You might also like:

Crime Map
A clickable, zoomable map
Elizabeth Kostova
Falling off the bridge
Keith Taylor
Brew & Chew
A wine store reinvented at Plymouth Mall
Patti Smith
Arts and Crafts
To Sell or Not to Sell?
It's decision time for the Library Lot.
James Leonard
Social Services and Support Groups
Today's Events
Bringing Back Barley
Saline entrepreneurs boost local brewing.
M.A. Engle
Talking Literature
At local book clubs, "some of our best discussions are about books we don't like."
Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
Tides of Change
Living history on Water Hill
Dale DeVoss
Arbor Hospice Palliative Care
The Brain Injury Association of Michigan
A guide to senior living and services