Is it possible to Hack the Presidency?

February 4, 2005    Category: Blog, Thoughts

<![CDATA[A new fictional book from Syngress Publishing asks that questions and they go a step farther… the let you try. “The Mezonic Agenda, Hacking the Presidency” is a good book, and even cooler contest. Here’s the story: In six days Chad Davis will testify before Congress on the security, stability, and safety of Advice Software Inc.’s e-vote software. He is a world-renowned expert on software security, and his testimony will determine if the software will be implemented for use during the 2004 United States Presidential Elections.

After his speech at an RSA conference in Amsterdam, he is handed a cryptic CD with information on the software from notorious hacker Baff Lexicon. Davis and his friend from the FBI must use their knowledge of buffer overflows, format string vulnerabilities and zero-day exploits to penetrate physical and cyber defenses, ultimately uncovering Advice’s plot to fix the US presidential elections.

Here’s the cool part: The book comes with the CD (neat!). Everything that he does in the book with the CD, you can do with it on your own! Even better, if you successfully Hack the Presidency, and vote for yourself as President, you could win a trip to Black Hat 2005 (Security Conference in Las Vegas)

I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. (1) I’ve always wanted to know about hex editors, active debuggers, buffer overflows and stack overruns… I’m just not the sort of person to study them if I don’t have to. By presenting these concepts in a adventure story, learning was easy. (2) The opportunity to win a contest.

Let downs: The web site has a nice “warm up“ contest. They say that “every few weeks we will post new challenges so check back often“. So far, no new contests. I’m guessing that not enough people entered the first “warm up“. Also, in the solution of the first warm up, you get a “secret“ email address. When I sent an email to it, I never got a response. I simple “thanks for playing” would have been nice. Better still would have been the next step to another contest, only for those who finished the first… but that didn’t happen either. Related to this first let down is that you don’t get a response from the publisher when you send in your vote file either. That would have been nice too. Better still, they should have a graphic set up that you could post on your site “I hacked the presidency, and all I got was this lousy web art..“ But that didn’t happen either.

On a positive note, the authors’ email addresses are posted on their web site. When I sent them an email directly, I got a response the next day… that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Go to the Official Site for details: http://www.mezonicagenda.com

Update: In the spirit of the Mezonic Agenda, I have create a DNN module so that you can give your self a vote with about 15,000 votes on it (the one that I submitted has over 2 billion). Go here for more details.

 

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