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 …

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WTF?

Re: You can get it back

the only way to defeat them is to shred the drive, and even then you'd better dump the pieces in different places 'cause if they get hold of enough pieces they can still get data.

.. which was the second argument we have against getting our own shredder.

Someone's got an overactive paranoia mode in their imagination.

So the shredder rips each platter into what, would 10,000 bits be reasonable? For a 2 platter drive there's 20,000 bits. Being a mechanical shredding process, there is also going to be some "dust" that once was part of the platters, but is not really part of the 10,000 bits per platter.

To reassemble the data on the drive they need to rebuild the platters. To do that they have to get every bit (physical chunk) into the right place, and the right way up. But where bits cracked and dust flaked off, there will be more bits that are lost. Finding and reassembling dust particles is impossible.

Another issue is the mechanism of the shredder, the very strong magnets in the drive, and the movement of bits of the platters as they separate from each other - all of these would also create magnetic fields within the fragments that could flip bits.

So even if they could get all the bits together, separated out from platter/drive electronics/case/etc, there's little chance anyone would have the resources to rebuild the platters.

And even if the platters could be rebuilt, there is 0 chance of actually getting the data off it.

A 3-pass secure wipe is plenty, but if you do wish to shred, don't worry about someone getting your drive's individual particles and re-assembling them. That level of technology will never exist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You can get it back

A 3-pass secure wipe is plenty, but if you do wish to shred, don't worry about someone getting your drive's individual particles and re-assembling them. That level of technology will never exist.

Don't worry - we were just checking just how much we could get away with :). Personally I don't see anyone recover much after a 1 pass mechanical shredding of a drive, although I would be interested to see what a drive cross shredder would look like, just for the sheer mechanics.

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Pint

Re: You can get it back

Don't worry - we were just checking just how much we could get away with :).

But I read it on teh interwebs so it must be true!

Like with the NCIS clip (and other such rubbish), there are people who believe that stuff is possible. Sadly, even here at El Reg :(

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Get it back: easy - peasy ...

Load the backups.

Oh, what do you mean that they were wiped as well or they did not back the machine up ?

.

.

What is that nasty smell in the corner ?

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Windows

avalanche of poorly executed cya.

But then we not talking about folks with extensive enterprise IT experience with tons of security skills. Right folks? I mean, these guys don't work for IBM or Equifax right?

Oh. I seeeeeee.

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Anonymous Coward

If you could get remote Admin/root...

.. any wannabe script kiddie on the internet could have twatted this server

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Re: If you could get remote Admin/root...

Even when it's UNPLUGGED?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you could get remote Admin/root...

Especially when it's "UNPLUGGED"

Point to fact, I have a server that's been unplugged for about 8 years. I plugged it in the other day and nothing, it won't even post. Clearly it's been hacked by some script kiddie and disabled while I was out at the shops.

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WTF?

What I find difficult to believe is...

... that the plaintiffs' lawyers didn't subpoenaed the shit out of the State of Georgia regarding that particular server and the backups.

They should have called Saul instead!

8^)

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Re: They should have called Saul instead!

They tried but it was conflict of interests as the election officials had already hired him...

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Trollface

Re: They should have called Saul instead!

I thought he worked for the CIA?

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Anonymous Coward

Is This Related?

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has completed a report indicating there was no malicious intent last year when Secretary of State Brian Kemp alleged the federal agency may have tried to hack into the Georgia’s voter registration system."

For those outside of the US, perhaps you are not aware that "dossier" used to push the Trump/Russia collusion story was apparently ordered by and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. In other words, another political hit job pushed to tame reporters, much like the "Obama is a secret muslim" story that Clinton pushed out to them in her previous campaign.

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The Reg mysteriously wiped clean for any mentions of the Anwar brothers...

sleazy as hell IT story, but wrong party..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Reg mysteriously wiped clean for any mentions of the Anwar brothers...

Yes, odd that I don't recall seeing anthing here about that fascinating IT story. It doesn't do much for their (The Reg) rapidly diminishing credibility.

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K

#RESIST #RESIST #RESIST #RESIST #RESIST #RESIST #RESIST #RESIST #RESIST

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Thumb Down

Great work fellas

- Poorly configured server

- Poor security

- Server wiped

- Don't know who dun it

- e-voting in general

- stink of corruption and/or interference

MAGA!

Making Accountability Generally Avoidable

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Anonymous Coward

Prior quote applies here

"What? Like with a cloth?"

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Unhappy

"So far, everyone is claiming ignorance of the event. "

So the deletion has never "officially" happened, yet the data is not there anymore?

There's been a lot of "deconstructing the event" over the years.

No one knows anything has happened.

No one authorized anything to happen.

And yet something has happened.

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Joke

Call the NSA...

Since the NSA likes to snoop on everything, I'm sure they'll have a copy lying around somewhere.

Maybe if the NSA changed there name to the National Society of Archivists then everyone will be so much more trusting. I mean they're just glorified librarians after all and who doesnt like librarians?

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Isn't it obvious?

Logan Lamb: "You could just go to the root of where they were hosting all the files and just download everything without logging in," he said. He also noted the files had been indexed by Google, making them readily available to anyone looking in the right place.

Um...why not just get a copy from him? Or maybe Google cache?

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Silver badge

Re: Isn't it obvious?

I think you'll find that this "going to the root" applies to the http server's hosting "root" which only lets you access "all" the documents that were _meant_ to be network-exposed (to someone properly logged in as normally intended, not so much the case here). That does not include any of the rest of the filesystem / potential malware / access logs / etc.

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Re: Isn't it obvious?

Unless this "going to the root" meant the http server was misconfigured to use the server root as the webserver root? I can see someone readily doing that and not realizing they did it wrong.

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Trollface

Re: Isn't it obvious?

"Logan Lamb: "You could just go to the root of where they were hosting all the files and just download everything without logging in," he said. He also noted the files had been indexed by Google, making them readily available to anyone looking in the right place."

Wayback machine?

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Stand by for Al Reg bots down-voting any reports that run counter to the party line. Like (for example) the recent news in the Washington Post:

"Russian Dossier" was paid for by the Clinton Campaign…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/clinton-campaign-dnc-paid-for-research-that-led-to-russia-dossier/2017/10/24/226fabf0-b8e4-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html

Meanwhile, stories are still breaking about the Russian donations to the Clinton Foundation around the time of the Uranium One deal which gave Russians part-ownership of American uranium assets. And a $500,000 speaking fee received in Russia by Bill Clinton,

"The Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees will jointly investigate the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s handling of classified documents. Meanwhile, the latter committee with the Intelligence committee will jointly probe the sale of a uranium company to a Russian firm when Clinton was Secretary of State."

More down-votes?

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Stop

Actually the Dossier started with the Republicans...

Alright I'll bite. The Russian Dossier was actually started under funding from the Republican National Committee because they didnt want Trump as a candidate. Once he won the Primaries, the dropped it (naturally) and it was effectively sold to the Clinton campaign. After that it was picked up by the FBI. Not bad work from the makers of the dossier - they got to sell it 3 times.

(here's my source for my info, where's yours? - http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41752908)

But seriously, if you dont think that EVERY side in an American election doesnt have Dossiers looking for dirt on their rivals you'd have to be crazy. The fact that the only thing the trump campaign really came out with against Hilary was the email saga and some potentially dodgy money coming to her foundation says to me that she's relatively clean (on a politicians scale of cleanliness). Considering that Trump has absolutely no problem letting rip with any dirt he can possibly come up with (real or not), I cannot see him sitting on anything that was actually dirty.

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WTF?

Why do you guys keep banging on about whatever Hilary did or did not do? How is her alleged bad behaviour in any way an excuse for anything? The election is over.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Actually the Dossier started with the Republicans...

My concern is that the dossier was made to appear as a document created by UK intelligence services and accepted and reported by the media as such. Don't forget it was used to push the Republican/Russia collusion story and presented to law enforcement to investigate.

Meanwhile, the Reg keeps pushing that discredited narrative and doesn't report on all the stories out there that illustrate that - or have to do with Democratic misdeeds. Earlier posts mention the example of the house Democrat's IT imbroglio.

What perplexes us me is why would the UK based Reg decide to take on the role of Democratic Party house organ?

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Re: Actually the Dossier started with the Republicans...

"that the only thing the trump campaign really came out with against Hilary was the email saga and some potentially dodgy money coming to her foundation says to me that she's relatively clean (on a politicians scale of cleanliness)."

Thats got to be the funniest thing I've read all year. There was a lot more than that. I dislike Trump as much as the next person, but Hillary is as corrupt as they come. The US election was about choosing the lesser of two evils once Bernie was out of the running.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Actually the Dossier started with the Republicans...

The US election was about choosing the lesser of two evils once Bernie was out of the running.

And they fucking failed at that.

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Trollface

Well at least it's secure now

Good for another 15 years

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So how did the data get erased

Sounds like a good case of hide the evidence it all happened, but as others have said, i FBI come up with the (supposedly forensically secure, TEMPEST stored) copy they have, then that puts most of the cover up theories to bed. which brings me to either deliberate action, lets cover our tracks:-

secure_erase routine thats a compulsory part of the ANSI T-13 standard (for all ATA drives) and Security_erase thats part of the SCSi standard (but optional)

or hanlon's razor:-

as its at university, the physics department might just have made a stonking electro magnet for SnG which degaussed the entire campus

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Big Brother

Resistance...and Voting... is Futile

This article is proof positive voting itself has become a futile gesture. It gives us the illusion of democratic process. In this case the government itself is covering up criminal interference with an election. Meanwhile, the head law enforcement agency compounds wrong doing by keeping secrets.

“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”

Lord Acton

“Examining public records should never require extraordinary legal or bureaucratic efforts. When it does, it’s usually a red flag.”

Don Baldwin

“Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant”

Louis D. Brandeis

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Bronze badge

Stop injecting your politics

Trump didn't 'narrowly' win in Georgia, he received 210,000+ more votes than Hilary.

The lawsuit isn't about recounting the votes. It's about changing the computer systems used for voting. Even if the votes were recounted, it's one district in Georgia. No way 200K+ of votes.

The lawsuit to upgrade voting equipment is being pursued by Republican's across many states. The Democrats are opposing these suits.

The GOP supports these suits because new systems support accountability and prevent voter fraud.

DNC is opposed to them, because they believe people's votes will go uncounted.

Both sides are upset in this case (at least appear this way), that data was wiped just after the suit was brought on. Funny, this happened before (Hilary's server), but the DNC wasn't very upset about it then. In fact, they did everything they could to make it a non-event.

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If you think the deletion/wiping is mysterious...

You clearly aren't paying attention.

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FAIL

And where are the backup copies?

> No hard copies of the votes are kept, making the electronic copy the only official record.

Q: What is the #1 Rule of both Computing and Computer Security?

A: Make a backup!

In fact, make two backups, one local and one off-site. They should be made as regularly as important files are stored on the computer.

If a computer user does NOT make backups, they have no business working with computers.

If a computer user loses data because they don't have backups, they deserve what they get! It's that critical. IOW: Georgia! Get some computer competence immediately or stop using computers!

What's really fun, of course, is when the backups get wiped as well. They we KNOW...

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Facepalm

US voting server hacked by Russian agents

"It is feared the machine may have been hacked by Russian agents, who have taken a keen interest in the 2016 White House race, or potentially any miscreant on the planet."

It is feared is it .. I have it on good authority it was albino shape shifting reptiles from a planet in the Draco constellation that did the hacking.

Seriously though, assuming these records were required as part of an investigation of voter fraud, why wasn't a copy made and stored in a secure location. Oh, I see from the bottom of the article the FBI made a copy.

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Linux

Don't tell Me

.....and there are no back ups? This IS a government server subject to stringent rules is it not?

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Updates

UPDATE 4:57pm ET: Marilyn Marks, the executive director of the Coalition, a group that is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told Ars that she had issued a litigation hold notice to the defendants.

"They know that they are required to preserve all records when they are sued," she e-mailed. "They don’t need court order. Even IF the SOS office didn’t have three dozen attorneys to tell them to preserve the records, they got this attached letter from us on July 10 and destroyed the second server hard drive on August 9."

UPDATE 11:40pm ET: Tammy Demel, a spokeswoman for Kennesaw State University, e-mailed Ars a statement.

"In March 2017, a Center for Election Systems’ server involved in an alleged data breach was turned over to the FBI. While the server was in the possession of the Bureau, a forensic image or copy of all the data on the server was made and held by the agency. Following the notification from the FBI that no data was compromised and the investigation was closed, the server was returned to the University’s Information Technology Services group and securely stored. In accordance with standard operating procedures, an after-action report was prepared. This report outlined hardware improvements for the Center, including repurposing the impacted server and surplusing servers that had exceeded end of life. As part of the report, the original server that had been investigated by the FBI was designated to be repurposed, and the drives on the server were erased and the server made available for alternative uses."

"As noted by the subpoena filed today by the Attorney General’s Office, the data and information that was on the server in question has been and is still in the possession of the FBI and will remain available to the parties in the event it is determined to be relevant in the pending litigation."

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Bronze badge

Cause confusion BEFORE you wipe...

dd if=/dev/sda | sed 's/0/1/g' | dd of=/dev/sda

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Thumb Up

Re: Cause confusion BEFORE you wipe...

dd if=/dev/sda | sed 's/0/1/g' | dd of=/dev/sda

Interesting..

Now.... Is there a way to make that a little more random? That could cause even more confusion :)

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Re: Cause confusion BEFORE you wipe...

"Interesting..

Now.... Is there a way to make that a little more random? That could cause even more confusion :)"

LOL!

Sure,Here you go:

dd if=/dev/sda | sed 's/D/R/g' | dd of=/dev/sda

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