Databases Affect Many Aspects of our Lives

by Brian B
The article I picked this week is titled “Ohio Audit Says Diebold Vote Database May Have Been Corrupted” by Kim Zetter. The article is talking about a company called Diebold who makes the electronic voting machines for the State of Ohio. It focuses on the November 2006 election in Ohio because there are questions to whether the database that these machines used was corrupted. The report cited by this article states that there were “Vote totals in two separate databases that should have been identical had different totals.  (Zetter, 2007)” The company essentially responded by saying that the system was working as intended. It was also found that “Tables in the database contained elements that were missing date and time stamps that would indicate when information was entered. Entries that did have date/time stamps showed a January 1, 1970 date.  (Zetter, 2007)” The article goes on to say that the database software that was being used was built by Microsoft’s Jet Database engine. It states that “The engine, according to Microsoft, is vulnerable to corruption when a lot of concurrent activity is happening with the database, such as what occurs on an election night. (Zetter, 2007)” The system was reported to be experiencing many problems during election night. It would reboot, crash, some ballots were not scanned, and some ballots were counted twice. Because of this several workers were convicted of tampering with election results.

I picked this article because it talks about the physical design of the database and its deficiencies when it is used for this kind of work. I thought that it tied into our class because it was talking about database design and the problems that can arise if you choose the wrong system to use. I also thought it was relevant because the elections are coming up, and even thought they don’t affect this class directly, they do affect us in day-to-day life.

I thought it was an interesting article because it shows that these systems are only as good as the people that set them up. I also found it interesting because it mentioned what caused the corruption and what kind of corruption was seen in the database tables. It makes me question what kind of improvements or, lack thereof, has been put into place for this year’s election where these systems are being used.

Zetter, K. (2007, 04 19). Ohio Audit Says Diebold Vote Database May Have Been Corrupted. Retrieved from Wired: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/04/diebold_vote_da/

2 thoughts on “Databases Affect Many Aspects of our Lives

  • October 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm
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    I thought the article was very interesting considering that elections are coming up. The idea of using voting machines that had the possibility of being corrupted is very important. The database software that was used for the voting machines must be modified in order to better comply with the numerous activities that result from multiple people voting. The corruption may open doors for hackers to tamper with or reveal sensitive information of an election.

  • October 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm
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    Reading this article only furthers my interest in data security. It is definitely very important to use engines that are least vulnerable to corruption. It was interesting that the system was experiencing a lot of bugs that night, almost as if it was going completely haywire. On that note, hopefully nothing like that happens this year. I’m interested in learning about ways to prevent possible corruptions like this. Good post.

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