TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Chicago Voter Info Vulnerable to Hackers

Chicago Voter Info Vulnerable to Hackers

Michael Tarm, AP (
Tue, 24 Oct 2006 16:04:20 -0500

by MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer

The city is investigating a security glitch in its elections Web site
that hackers could have used to swipe Social Security numbers and the
personal information of about 1.3 million voters, officials said.

It wasn't immediately clear if anyone actually stole or misused any of
the information, Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Tom Leach said.

He said the problem had been fixed and a forensic computer expert
would be brought in to examine the site's logs for any signs of
illegal access.

"Obviously, we are very concerned," Leach said Monday. "We have no
reason to believe there was (theft), but we want to be able to assure
people there wasn't."

A watchdog group, the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, exposed the
vulnerability and alerted officials last week, Leach said.

"This was a very serious vulnerability," project member Peter
Zelchenko said.

A malevolent hacker could have tampered with voter registration data,
such as inactivating certain voters' registration or changing their
polling places in the online database, as well as accessed Social
Security numbers, names, birth dates and addresses, the group said.

The Web site is designed to enable Chicago residents to register to
vote online. It also explains how and where to cast ballots. About 1.3
million former and current registered voters have personal information
on the site, which includes about 780,000 Social Security numbers,
Leach said.

Leach said the site cannot be used to access the city's electronic
vote-counting systems.

"Everyone can be assured there votes will be counted and counted
accurately," he said.

On the Net:

Board of Elections:
Illinois Ballot Integrity project:

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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