One little thing that REALLY bugs me, is the medias cluelessness about anything computer related at all. Often referring to ‘Hackers’ without a second thought at all.
A few months back a man was harassing another person on trademe, was blocked, and created another trademe account to harass them further. The media titled the article something akin to ‘man hacks trademe to abuse woman’. Hang on, wouldn’t that mean he did something illegal? or had some sort of computer skill? Are they seriously not aware that any old person who knows next too nothing about computers, can use a second email address signed up freely at gmail.com or hotmail.com, and sign up another trademe account?
This happens regularly, and today is no exception. In the media today i see this article. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10606941
Hackers force web poll to close after skewing results
4:00AM Tuesday Nov 03, 2009
By Beck Vass
Online polls on nzherald.co.nz have been pulled until further notice.
Online polls on the Herald’s website nzherald.co.nz have been pulled until further notice after hackers entered the system, skewing the results of three polls.
The polls – which included questions relating to whether people thought Destiny Church was a cult or a church, if people thought it was okay for MP Rodney Hide to take his girlfriend on tour at taxpayers’ expense and if people were sick of being told they were ruining the planet – were hacked late last week.
Jeremy Rees, nzherald.co.nz publisher, said a staff member was alerted to the hacking when, in the space of four hours last Thursday, the Destiny Church poll swung from 97 per cent of people saying it was a cult to 60 per cent saying it was a church, with an unusually high number of responses.
On Friday, the Rodney Hide Poll showed 90 per cent of people thought it was unacceptable that he took his girlfriend Louise Crome overseas, leaving taxpayers to foot the $25,163 bill. But that poll also swung rapidly, moving in favour of the MP.
The poll was pulled down and the one that replaced it asked if people were sick of being told they were ruining the planet and from 4pm it was noticed that the number of votes was unusually high for a Friday afternoon, with about 2000 votes an hour.
Mr Rees said IT specialists were looking into the problems and had identified internet protocol (IP) numbers 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 as the source of the problems but polls had been stopped until issues were resolved.
While some people might think the poll hacking was a conspiracy from interested parties, that was often not the case, Mr Rees said.
“Often most likely it’s some kind of 18-year-old guy in a black T-shirt who’s bored from looking at the new Google wave [a type of software] product and has decided to take a hack.”
Now, seriously, men in black shirts? really? are we back in the 90s when most people on a computer had to be fairly technical to do such a thing, and usually teenagers ergo wearing black shirts?
I’ve been known to use autovoting a few times on various game websites for a little fun. Its not hacking, its skewing the results for sure, but these are not for a competition, they are not voting for a particular government party, and in fact if they were serious about wanting the results to be accurate they would enforce logins, and dynamic hidden fields to help control it.
I notice that they also have included the IP addresses of the computers that were doing the voting, hmm not such a good idea really to do so, however this illustrates that these are not ‘hackers’ , they didnt even use an anonymous proxy.
liz@tulip:~$ host 188.8.131.52
184.108.40.206.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer 118-92-185-135.dsl.dyn.ihug.co.nz.
liz@tulip:~$ host 220.127.116.11
18.104.22.168.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer ip-118-90-40-97.xdsl.xnet.co.nz.
liz@tulip:~$ host 22.214.171.124
126.96.36.199.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer atm1-0-939.akl-grafton-car1.ihug.net.
They are using ihug, xnet and the last one looks much like router or business connection – clearly in Grafton Auckland.
Whilst they may have loaded up something simple like greasemonkey on firefox, then written a few lines of code, they more than likely just downloaded an application similar to those used for runescape to automate things.
So, lets get this straight, there is MUCH debate over what a hacker is, and the difference between a hacker, and a cracker. However, neither one covers whatever the heck the medias idea is. They are what’s generally referred to as a pain in the butt, and in any case, if you are one of the top websites in a country, you should have a LOT better security if you are worried about the validity of your poll data.
ps. I’m a female, and i rarely wear black shirts, i’m also nowhere near 18 , however my son is almost 18, who also doesn’t wear black shirts, and who also could easily ‘hack’ those polls.