Senate Leader scraps website war poll, blaming hackers

"Tampering" or the wrong result?


Senate majority leader Bill Frist has yanked a "Bomb Iraq" poll from his website.

Frist's office told The Register that "tampering" was to blame for the removal of the poll, which asked "Should the United States use force to remove Saddam Hussein from power? Your opinion is important to Senator Frist."

"Clever computer programmers created a program that generated 8,700 votes in a day," a spokesperson told us. Which is where the mystery really begins.

The spokesperson couldn't say whether the software was running inside the firewall, representing a major breach of the Senate IT security, or was a robot-style vote generator run by netizens.

The curious thing is that Frist's poll page already banned robots - including the Wayback Machine, archive.org - from the site. Respondents could vote once and then return to the site later to change their vote; only the latest response would be counted.

"As you know government computers are constantly being attacked by hackers," he suggested.

Nor could Frist's office explain why the website administrators simply didn't exclude the votes they didn't want to count - Florida-style.

One correspondent has noted the increasing tally of No votes:-

"At 1:35 pm Washington DC time on March 6, the Frist site reported 31,118 responses to the war poll. Anti-war respondents (55%) had gained a clear majority over pro-war respondents (44.6%). (These figures do not quite add up to 100%, apparently because of the rounding method used by Senator Frist's staff.)

"Within the hour, at 2:23 pm, the anti-war fever had risen, with 56.9% anti-war, 42.9% pro-war. By 4:29 pm, according a snapshot of the Frist site, with 37, 742 total responses, the anti-war vote registered 59.5%, with the pro-war vote ebbing at 39.8%."

The Senate site has been defaced before. Whether this represents a new and more serious breach - as Frist's office suggests - we don't know.

But our enquiries continue. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Firefox kills another tracking cookie workaround
    URL query parameters won't work in version 102 of Mozilla's browser

    Firefox has been fighting the war on browser cookies for years, but its latest privacy feature goes well beyond mere cookie tracking to stop URL query parameters.

    HTML query parameters are the jumbled characters that appear after question marks in web addresses, like website.com/homepage?fs34sa3aso12knm. Sites such as Facebook and HubSpot use them to track users when links are clicked, and other websites like YouTube use them to enable certain site features too.

    On June 28, Firefox 102 released a feature that enables the browser to "mitigate query parameter tracking when navigating sites in ETP strict mode." ETP, or enhanced tracking protection, encompasses a variety of Firefox components that block social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, fingerprinting and cryptominers "without breaking site functionality," says Mozilla's ETP support page.

    Continue reading
  • Old school editor Vim hits version 9 with faster scripting language
    All of the famed user-friendliness and ease of use, but 'drastically' better performance

    Old school editor fans, rejoice: some two and a half years after version 8.2, Vim 9 is here with a much faster scripting language.

    Vim 9 has only a single big new feature: a new scripting language, Vim9script. The goal is to "drastically" improve the performance of Vim scripts, while also bringing the scripting language more into line with widely used languages such as JavaScript, TypeScript, and Java.

    The existing scripting language, Vimscript, remains and will still work. Only scripts beginning with the line vim9script will be handled differently. The syntax changes are relatively modest; the important differences are in things like local versus global variables and functions, and that functions defined with :def will be compiled before they are run. This allows many errors to be caught in advance, but more significantly, compiled functions execute from 10× to 1000× faster.

    Continue reading
  • Iceotope: No need to switch servers to swap air-cooled for liquid-cooled
    Standard datacenter kit just needs a few tweaks, like pulling off the fans

    Liquid cooling specialist Iceotope claims its latest system allows customers to easily convert existing air-cooled servers to use its liquid cooling with just a few minor modifications.

    Iceotope’s Ku:l Data Center chassis-level cooling technology has been developed in partnership with Intel and HPE, the company said, when it debuted the tech this week at HPE’s Discover 2022 conference in Las Vegas. The companies claim it delivers energy savings and a boost in performance.

    According to Iceotope, the sealed liquid-cooled chassis enclosure used with Ku:l Data Center allows users to convert off-the-shelf air-cooled servers to liquid-cooled systems with a few small modifications, such as removing the fans.

    Continue reading
  • Gartner predicts 9.5% drop in PC shipments
    Stark contrast to 11 percent increase year-over-year in 2021 shipments

    The party is over for PC makers as figures from Gartner suggest the market is on course for a breathtaking decline this year.

    According to the analysts, worldwide PC shipments will decline by 9.5 percent, with consumer demand leading the way – a 13.5 percent drop is forecast, far greater than business PC demand, which is expected to drop by 7.2 percent year on year.

    The PC market in the EMEA region is forecast to fare even worse, with a 14 percent decline on the cards for 2022. Gartner pointed the finger of blame at uncertainty caused by conflicts, price increases and simple unavailability of products. Lockdowns in China were also blamed for an impact in consumer demand.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022