Friday, March 02, 2007

Herald Tribue infected by virus

Today's Southwest Florida's Herald Tribune online has the following disclaimer on the web site:

    March 02. 2007 8:36AM
    An apology to our newspaper readers


    A computer virus crippled parts of the Herald-Tribune's production equipment Thursday night, forcing the newspaper to print Friday's editions without several of its local news, sports and editorial pages. The technical problems also caused papers to be delivered late. We apologize to our readers and advertisers. Our technicians are working diligently to fix the problems that the virus attack created and to ensure that they are not repeated.

Reading this made me think of the times that I and other computer scientists postulated that a virus, such as the one Ed Felten's team wrote at Princeton, could infect a voting system and copy itself through the memory cards and the voting terminals. The voting machine environment might be more difficult to infect than the Herald Tribune, but the possibility definitely exists. Every time I hear people argue that this could never happen, I wonder what these people would have said about the possibility of a virus corrupting a major newspaper's operations such that the paper was printed with several pages missing. What's more, having looked at the Diebold source code, I wonder if the voting machine vendors' security procedures are better or worse than those of this newspaper.