Notes from a Madman


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If They Did It, This is How They Did It


As an American who has never (and I mean NEVER) missed a vote (and that included those little April votes, too), let me start this little piece of my mind by saying I DO NOT think this US presidential election was stolen (or, at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself.) Was it mishandled by those like FBI Director James Comey? Yes. Was it based on racism, misogyny and hate rather than facts? You bet. But stolen? Probably(?) not.


That being said, as a Network Professional who specializes in business networks, Email Servers and antivirus remediation, allow me to speak my mind: If this Presidential election was “rigged” (to borrow a word from “You Know Who”), this is how they did it:


We've all heard about the stories of votes being changed from one candidate to another, especially in the 2000 Bush-Gore fiasco; and while it was said this can't happen with current election machines (some of which aren’t so “current”) because they aren't connected to the Internet (at the time of their use, that is); it is both physically and electronically impossible for these machines, which are a type of PC at heart, to be completely removed from the possibility of being hacked.


All electronic devices today have to have a brain - a Basic Input Operating System (BIOS) chip similar to the one that gives you the "black screen" information you see when starting your home PC. Printers, scanners and other devices (like voting machines) have them, too. Periodically, all BIOS chips require updating, usually performed by "flashing" them with a newer, better and "more secure" version of their software. And while there are a couple of ways to get the new software onto the electronic voting machine’s BIOS chips, magic isn’t one of them.


There are two common ways to get software from the manufacturer to any device with a BIOS (you also may hear them called flash; flash BIOS; CMOS; etc.)The first is to connect the electronic voting machine directly to the Internet, and by now, we all know how safe that truly is (or isn't). Another way is to have a technician come to each machine and upload the new software (via USB or similar).


What each of these means has in common is their origin:

·         A programmer writes the software on a computer, which is usually connected to the Internet

·         The software is uploaded to a Server for distribution, which is usually connected to the Internet

·         A technician downloads the software to his laptop, usually via an internal connection to the Server, and also connected to  the Internet


·         The customer's (a US State's) internal IT Department downloads the software via the Internet and installs it onto their electronic voting machine


With the hacking performed by the Russians of US Servers during this past election cycle, should the possibility of hacking well-known electronic voting machine manufacturers be dismissed so easily? One should doubt it...


…and this experienced network engineer does.


-Noah Greenberg, MCSE, CCNA

President, Amboy Computer

November 10, 2016


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Compiled by Noah Greenberg