back to article US voting server in election security probe is mysteriously wiped

A computer at the center of a lawsuit digging into woeful cyber-security practices during the US presidential election has been wiped. The server in question is based in Georgia – a state that narrowly backed Donald Trump, giving him 16 electoral votes – and stored the results from the state's voting systems. The deletion of …

Anonymous Coward

Mystery, intrigue, subterfuge, this has everything.

It's like watching a really good film or TV program where you try to predict the end but know you are going to get it spectacularly wrong.

I do question whether it is impossible to analyse the data unless someone has done a low level format. Though if that is the case then I must obtain some tin foil for a nice new boater.

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Let's look at the last paragraph in the article:

"As for the information itself, there is one more avenue to recover it: the FBI took a copy of the server's filesystem contents when it opened an investigation into the system back in March. So far the Feds have refused to say whether they still have that copy."

So, there is a copy available. The info has not been destroyed. And I'd guess there hasn't been time in the current news cycle for anyone to ask the FBI about that copy, so of course they have "refused" to say if they kept a copy, something the FBI is famous for always doing. Basically the FBI is a giant file cabinet and has been since J. Edgar Hoover.

It's amusing to watch people who hate Trump beyond all reason (and were sure he'd lose anyway) reduced to clawing the thin ice of "possible election server tampering." Meanwhile their own candidate might soon be facing very serious criminal charges, along with Mueller, Comey, and half the Democrats in DC apparently.

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I suspect you're right. And the file cabinet has a rusty combination lock so seeing what's in it is a chore unto itself.

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@big?_john

I'm sure you think it is reasonable to delete election data when no physical copy exists. By the way, it is hard to "hate Trump beyond all reason" as he is a self serving liar, corporate criminal and racist lap dog of Putin.

How can you excuse an apologist for Nazis, a man urging the execution of five innocent black men in New York without apology after proof of their innocence? How can you support a racist unwilling to believe Obama was born in my state when he was born to a US citizen with no incentive to go to Kenya to give birth. All I can say to you is, I hope Trump hires you and stiffs you like like legions of regular upstanding Americans who were dumb enough to sign a contract to work for him.

El Reg, once again sorry for feeding the little troll.

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Flame

Jayzus, Padre. Jayzus.

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Coat

"So far the Feds have refused to say whether they still have that copy."

"So, there is a copy available."

So, maybe there is, and maybe there ain't. True, state agencies are bullish on document retetention, as well as coy to flirtatious with possible information. How these things result in a fractious partisan jab is perhaps more telling of oneself than those one seeks to disfavour. Still, Jayzus.

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It will be simple to know if this is a coverup

If after allowing a few days or even generously a few weeks if the FBI can't confirm that they still have their copy of the data and they will make it available if it required by the lawsuits (and the lawsuits aren't summarily dismissed via the technicality of the server having been wiped) then this is either a coincidence of poor timing, or at worst a coverup that failed.

If the FBI has mysteriously lost or deleted their copy, or refuses to respond, or the court cases get dismissed because the server is no longer intact even though the FBI has a copy, then it looks mighty suspicious that a coverup is involved. Big John will deny that, because he lives in a world of alternative facts where the only evil and corrupt politicians are democrats, and all republicans are pure as the driven snow.

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Re: @big?_john

Redpawn, only one up vote allowed I'm afraid or you would have a bucket full from me.

Its weird somebody defending the orange one on here, I always believed the average Trump voter couldn't even put a key in a door lock let alone switch a computer on

it puts the lotion in the basket....

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Anonymous Coward

@big john

That was my point. If there is one more avenue which is the copy then the original is of no use indicating a low level format which itself leads to some uncomfortable questions. An accidental wipe while unusual is not unheard of however a low level format shows an intent to hide information.

I'm unsure how you got to "Trump Hate" when I was just questioning the facts but then again thinking about that whenever someone questions the "facts" it's fake news.

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To quote Mark Twain

"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"

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Anonymous Coward

It's amusing to watch people who hate Trump beyond all reason (and were sure he'd lose anyway) reduced to clawing the thin ice of "possible election server tampering." Meanwhile their own candidate might soon be facing very serious criminal charges, along with Mueller, Comey, and half the Democrats in DC apparently.

@BJ, that's an example of the thinking that has finally convinced me that the wall is a good idea, but more to keep people in, not out. I'm positive Europe and the rest of the actually developed world will spring for a roof.

The banking sector has been freed again of its obligation to be honest with its customers, which is in itself a major argument to start reducing a dependency of anything financial in the hands of the US (subprime II, coming to you soon), the EPA has been neutered so everything you grow is soon likely to be polluted (not that it could be harvested anyway as all the cheap workers have gone) and soon, the only form of collaboration left is threats as the US slowly turns into a Kremlin annex. That said, I must admit that your approach to population control is creative. First you remove abortions under the excuse "right to live", and then you hand guns to everyone because the full sentence ends with ".. but not that long".

No wonder the smart ones are emigrating, Putin has won.

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Anonymous Coward

@Big_John

Do you think people now down vote you as soon as they see your name?

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Anonymous Coward

Do you think people now down vote you as soon as they see your name?

I still remain focused on the merit of argument. Although that is mostly absent (as in this case), he has occasionally managed to contribute something. That said, when I *do* downvote the usual drivel, I even use my middle finger :).

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@BigJohn

It's amusing to watch people who hate Trump beyond all reason

BUT HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!!!!

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Won't have been formatted

Rather the drives fed through a degausser/shredder

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"Low level format"

Also know to most techies as simply "format". There is no such thing as "high-level format". There is formatting, and there is deletion of the partition table. Microsoft's "quick format" is therefore not formatting anything. "low-level" format here would not be (more) indicative of deliberate mischief.

In any case on a machine that age, the most cost-effective wipe would surely involve physical destruction !

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Given that the reasons for hating that incompetent buffoon are nearly infinite, and growing daily, it's impossible to hate him beyond all reason.

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Re: It will be simple to know if this is a coverup

It's certainly a cover-up. But probably just by local people covering their arses. It doesn't need "Russian agents" to have hacked it. By the sounds of it any person in the vicinity could have hacked with it a pringle's can (as in the case of the voting "machine" that was hacked in Brazil). Interfering with the election would be a federal crime of a pretty high order - years in prison. By far the most likely scenario to me is that it was a crappy, insecure system. It might have been hacked, it might not. Somebody in the chain of responsibility for this panicked and wiped the whole thing. I mean if Hillary can "accidentally" delete 30,000 emails and claim they were about yoga, I don't see why somebody in lower government wouldn't try the same approach.

Electronic voting is a bad idea. Electronic voting without a paper trail, is a terrible one.

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Re: @big?_john

" average Trump voter couldn't even put a key in a door"

Yes, maybe the average, but averages don't tell the whole story, do they? You also need the deviations and maybe there's even fat tails. As an American, I can tell you that the average American could not find the UK on a blank map (Canada and Mexico, after that it's fuzzy), nor tell you the name of any prime minister except maybe Churchill. Nor would they even be curious; it's really that bad.

I voted for Trump in hopes of avoiding war with Russia. Why does Western Europe (Lithuanians, Swedes, French, Germans) feel the need to invade Russia every century or so? When did it ever work out well? But here we are again, missiles on the border. Imagine sitting across a table from someone who's pointing a gun at you; how would you feel?

Everyone talks about how horrible Trump is; why not talk about how wonderful his opponent is? She was the Monsanto candidate, after all (look up the paid-speeches list); do you like the taste of glyphosate?

Ever been in combat? Imagine carrying a 50-pound pack through the snows of Russia, with snipers and land mines to keep you alert. Or maybe you could stay at home and find out what radiation sickness feels like when the missiles reach your town. Wonder how the IT infrastructure will work with all that extra EM activity

Even the endless virtue-signaling on technical stories is nausea inducing here. If there's no God and no punishment, there's no good or evil. Don't take my word for it, ask Ivan Karamazov. So your virtue-signals only impress the people who already think like you, that is, your operation is idempotent.

Everyone else sees only hatred and disdain for those with less cognitive endowment than you and fewer opportunities for develop what they have a beneath you and shouldn't even have the vote, at least not if they're white (or Asian). And thus are we not persuaded, but rather that much more hardened in our convictions. And however disappointed we are with the Golden Golem (and we are, e.g., Syria), at least he's not nuking Russia yet.

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Re: @big?_john

@wallaby

It’s not that you’re smarter than the Trump supporters who read the Register. It’s just that there’s more of you so we tend to keep our heads down.

It’s really not worth the hassle.

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@BJ, that's an example of the thinking that has finally convinced me that the wall is a good idea, but more to keep people in, not out. I'm positive Europe and the rest of the actually developed world will spring for a roof.

You only need to wall/roof in a handful of cities. Washington DC, NYC, Seattle (unfortunately), San Francisco (again, unfortunately) and the posh sections of Los Angeles should be sufficient. You might even get the rest of NY State to pitch in on walling-off NYC.

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Re: @big?_john

Footage of Big John at his day job:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU

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Logic fail

Er,

"So far the Feds have refused to say whether they still have that copy"

does not mean

"So, there is a copy available".

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Re: @big?_john

How can you believe that Donald Trump is any worse than any other American political leader since... well, certainly since Teddy Roosevelt, whose racist rhetoric could not be distinguished from that of the Nazis?

The huge joke is that American citizens go on from decade to decade arguing that the other party are wicked murdering liars. They never notice that their own party is exactly the same. And so they go on from decade to decade, never noticing the man behind the curtain who is orchestrating it all to his own ends. It really is pathetic.

To my mind, the main reason so many in the US political establishment hate Trump so much is that he has a most indiscreet habit of telling the truth. And that lets the cat out of the bag.

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Re: @big?_john

@redpawn - you obviously haven't been here long - welcome! Big John is our resident bogeyman, here to make sure we don't become an echo chamber. Most of us (including me) disagree with his views but at least he generally makes reasoned arguments (although tbf not really in the above case), and rightly forces us to prove him wrong by supported and referenced arguments.

Personally I'm happy to have at least one dissenting voice in the forum.

Damn - defending the opposition's right to speech. I must really be a looney leftie.

This'll be an interesting study in the up- vs down-votes...

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Re: @big?_john

How can you believe that Donald Trump is any worse than any other American political leader since... well, certainly since Teddy Roosevelt, whose racist rhetoric could not be distinguished from that of the Nazis?

Easy. He managed o make George W Bush look good, which I originally thought to be impossible. Remember, they gave Obama the Nobel Peace price simply on the strength of him not being George W Bush, it was that bad.

And Trump makes him look good by comparison.

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Re: "Low level format"

Actually there is, and you haven't been able to do one for about 25 years now. It is not something done on modern drives, but used to be required on old drives a long time ago.

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Big Brother

Bleach Bit-h

HildeBEAST was seen walking away, cackling, dressed as a washerwoman with one shoe, saying, "I wiped it, like, with a cloth"......

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Re: "Low level format"

A proper 'write 0's' treatment of a disc is what plod calls 'sophisticated technical knowledge' when it is on the list of possible formats for a disk, click on the list, see, its there. Real sophisticated. You don't even have to read manual.

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Re: @big?_john

"I voted for Trump in hopes of avoiding war with Russia" - but North Korea and/or Iran is a different how?

"Ever been in combat?" - well, someone we wish we didn't know never has. Something to do with a bone in his leg...

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Re: @big?_john

I have this feeling man, 'cause you know, it's just a handful of people who run everything, you know … that's true, it's provable. It's not … I'm not a fucking conspiracy nut, it's provable. A handful, a very small elite, run and own these corporations, which include the mainstream media. I have this feeling that whoever is elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what you promise on the campaign trail – blah, blah, blah – when you win, you go into this smoke-filled room with the twelve industrialist capitalist scum-fucks who got you in there. And you're in this smoky room, and this little film screen comes down … and a big guy with a cigar goes, "Roll the film." And it's a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you've never seen before … that looks suspiciously like it's from the grassy knoll. And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they go to the new president, "Any questions?" "Er, just what my agenda is." "First we bomb Baghdad." "You got it …"

Bill Hicks

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El Vark wrote:

"So far the Feds have refused to say whether they still have that copy."

"So, there is a copy available."

So, maybe there is, and maybe there ain't. True, state agencies are bullish on document retetention, as well as coy to flirtatious with possible information. How these things result in a fractious partisan jab is perhaps more telling of oneself than those one seeks to disfavour. Still, Jayzus.

Now what I would like to know is... do we have a version of Schroedinger's Cat thingy for this sort of Legal/IT conundrum?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @big?_john

I always believed the average Trump voter couldn't even put a key in a door lock let alone switch a computer on

A lot of them do have trouble with computers. That's because they're over 60. They voted for Trump because he ran as the Republican just like good old Saint Ronnie. They don't have a clue that the Republican party platform, let alone the politicians, are not the same as they were 30 years ago.

Raegan would be considered a moderate today.

It took me decades to realize that one huge objection I have to "trickle-down economics" is that the theory explicitly states that it promotes income and wealth inequality by deliberately funneling money to those elites who need it the least. Somehow we were able to think that was a good thing back then.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @big?_john

I voted for Trump in hopes of avoiding war with Russia.

Then you are truly delusional.

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Anonymous Coward

>Meanwhile their own candidate ...

Mate, I didn't have a horse (or a donkey or an elephant) in that race and I suspect the same goes for a lot of people here.

Your current president appears to be a complete bell end but as long as he stops short of nuclear level idiocy he's just another episode in the septic political comedy-drama.

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@redpawn -- Re: @big?_john

I'm sure you think it is reasonable to delete election data when no physical copy exists.

Only when his guy wins. When the Other Guy wins, John's all for keeping the records <ad infinitun</i>, and opening at least 8 serial "investigations" as to how it was the election records disappeared.

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"I'm positive Europe and the rest of the actually developed world will spring for a roof."

No, we'll just caulk any holes and fill it up with water.

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"So, there is a copy available."

But us it legally admissible if required? Probably not, since it's a copy and may have been tampered with and can no longer be compared to the original. The chain of evidence is broken. And anyway, this is only incidentally about Trump. Primarily it's about an ancient server with ancient software and whether it was up to the job, not to mention the loss of data with the legal requirement it be retained.

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Re: "Low level format"

"It is not something done on modern drives"

Let me introduce you to the concept of "ATA secure erase"

it goes like this:

# hdparm --user-master u --security-set-pass Eins /dev/sdg

security_password: "Eins"

/dev/sdg:

Issuing SECURITY_SET_PASS command, password="Eins", user=user, mode=high

# time hdparm --user-master u --security-erase Eins /dev/sdg

security_password: "Eins"

/dev/sdg:

Issuing SECURITY_ERASE command, password="Eins", user=user

(some time later.....)

Done

This even scrubs the spare sectors

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Re: @big?_john

"Somehow we were able to think that was a good thing back then."

Ronnie's path to power was based on tearing up FDR's social contract and convincing people it was a good thing. As an actor he understood the secret to success is sincerity - as in if you can fake it, the world is your oyster.

At least (so far), Trump hasn't been using the CIA to fly in hundreds of tons of cocaine, to flood USA cities and create the Crack Epidemic, whilst simultaneously espousing a "war on drugs" (yes, this really happened, it all came out in the criminal trials associated with the Iran-Contra deals) - and one of the good things about him being in power is that all the nazis and racists are coming out of the closet, which makes them easily identifiable for later.

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Re: "Low level format"

"Also know to most techies as simply "format". There is no such thing as "high-level format". There is formatting, and there is deletion of the partition table. Microsoft's "quick format" is therefore not formatting anything. "low-level" format here would not be (more) indicative of deliberate mischief."

There used to be. A low-level format actually re-wrote all the sector information, including setting the interleave value to optimise the drive for the PC and marking the known bad sectors, and a high-level format (or, as you correctly say, a "format"), wrote the file system. Once IDE came along, low level format commands either did nothing or just reinitialised the partition tables.

low level format:

debug

g=c800:0007

Then do fdisk to write the partition tables

Then format the file system,

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Re: @big?_john

"Trump...has a most indiscreet habit of telling the truth."

Ummm...really? You don't read his twatters very often then?

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Re: @big?_john

"indiscreet"?

That's not how you spell "infrequent."

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"It's amusing to watch people who hate Trump beyond all reason"

I'm not sure even what that means? Can he be hated too much?

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Big Brother

>>I'm not sure even what that means? Can he be hated too much?

Oh, not at all. In fact, we recommend that you get together with like-minded people for a short period, perhaps two minutes, to get your hate done in one nice go.

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Re: "Low level format"

@ElReg!comments!Pierre: Also know to most techies as simply "format". There is no such thing as "high-level format". There is formatting, and there is deletion of the partition table. Microsoft's "quick format" is therefore not formatting anything. "low-level" format here would not be (more) indicative of deliberate mischief.

You don't know what you're talking about. Perhaps you should try using that new-fangled thing called Google:

Low-level format (LLF) -- https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/L/LLF.html

High-level format (HLF) -- https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/H/HLF.html

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Meanwhile their own candidate might soon be facing very serious criminal charges, along with Mueller, Comey, and half the Democrats in DC apparently.

Strange. The news over this side of the pond is that yet another senior person among CMIC's friends is up on serious charges, maybe more than one. Possibly even chump itself. (LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! - so funny if that is coming! :) )

How many democrats have got in the shit? How many retardlians? Don't forget Comey was actually very much a chump supporter at one point, being trumped as the man who would trump Clinton, by Trump himself no less. But now, in the revisionist history of the refudlians, Comey actually always was on the democrat sides and a supporter of hillarity?

Sad thing is, a significant number of retard supports simply are too dumb to remember who was on what side just a few months ago.

And no, I don't hate without reason. A few seconds of reading CMIC's twatter feed, or looking at how he talks about women, any number of things out of its own mouth gives plenty of reason for hate. That's why drumpf has such low approval ratings, everyone hates it, even a huge number of those who voted for the vile scum!

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Trollface

I'm positive Europe and the rest of the actually developed world will spring for a roof.

I'll put in some donations towards a tap!

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tfb
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Well, if the machine has been reused then something else has likely been scribbling all over the disk since it was formatted. So plenty of the data is likely irretrievably lost now.

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Re: "Low level format"

That's not what a low-level format was. Low-level formatting was fiddling with the way the data sat on the disk in a, well, low-level way: telling the thing how big blocks were and where sectors sat. It was something you used to need to do, but pretty much never do now (and I suspect *can't* do since it's all hidden away in the disk controller now).

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