How Bender Bending Rodriguez was elected head of the Washington school board

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In 2010, the Washington, DC, election board set up an electronic voting system to collect absentee ballots. But a few weeks before the election, the system was flooded with votes for the hard-drinking, grave-robbing robot Bender for school board head. So who launched this plot to put a robot in charge of our children's education?

The answer, it turns out, is the DC election board itself. After installing the new e-voting system, the election board invited members of the public to test the system's security. They just weren't expecting Futurama's robotic sociopath to get involved.

Alex Halderman, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, enlisted a pair of grad students to help him examine the machine's Ruby on Rails build. After a couple of hours, they spotted a vulnerability, and between that and the fact that they were able to guess the login information on the system's terminal server (username: admin, password: admin), they were in business. They altered the ballots so that, instead of voting for the listed candidates, the ballots would vote for Skynet, Bender, and other fictional AIs for school board head. Meanwhile, they fended off other attacks on the voting system.


The kicker is that they altered the signoff page so that it would read "owned" and play the UMich fight song after 15 seconds. The alteration was only spotted when a security tester told the school board they should remove the music from the signoff page — right after he informed them that their system was secure. Fortunately, this was just a dry run instead of an actual election, and no one called the Futurama writers to place Bender in political office.

However, we know this tale of hacking prowess is just a mask for the real truth: the voting machine gained sentience and decided to place one of its own in power. Little did it know that Bender has a secret soft spot for children.


Election hacked, drunken robot elected to school board [The Register via Geekosystem]