$2 million prize for hackers!

Wanted: hackers!
If Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s resolution is to pass, the Commision on Elections (COMELEC) will soon be inviting hackers to hack the poll automation machines set to be used for the 2010 Philippine national elections.
The prize for the hacker who can beat the computerized system? Around P100 million or US$2.083 million.
From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has filed a resolution setting aside P100 million as an incentive to anyone who can convincingly demonstrate the weakness of the automated poll system.
Cayetano, at a press conference Friday, said that if any IT expert can establish that the system to be used in the 2010 polls is not secure from fraud and tampering, “Comelec should cancel the contract, save the P11 billion and sue for damages the contractor in the event of such successful hacking.”

I’ll have to say, I can’t wait for this to start. Not that I’ll try hacking it myself (‘cos I don’t know how to do it) but I just want to see if hackers can trump these supposed poll automation experts.
Hack and roll!
Discussion thread: Gusto mo ba ng P100 million?

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27 thoughts on “$2 million prize for hackers!”

  1. “Comelec should cancel the contract, save the P11 billion and !![sue for damages the contractor]!! in the event of such successful hacking.”
    That’s awkward. I would not want to be the contractor of such project. I may very well end up incurring more than the worth of the services, quotation and resources rendered, earned and utilized.
    Moreover, what’s the purpose of debugging? — “to look for and remove the faults in a computer program” — there’s a reason for the existence of such concept. If something is broken fixed it appropriately. That how it works in computer industry and in general anyway. Litigation would be but a glaring manifestation of incompetence and arbitrary resolution for such a venerable man.

  2. hm..makes me wish that I should have taken that basic hacking class during college! ehehe!
    smells fishy and goodluck to Senator Peter Cayetano because honestly, no system or program is unhackable. the question is if the hassle and time is really worth it to break the system down.
    also, would this actually stop cheating? what if the program itself is designed to favor one side? just a thought! 😛

  3. Stopping an inherently unsecure system from being rolled out is commendable but encouraging hacking by offering rewards is irresponsible in my opinion. The statement “… he would rather revert to the manual counting of votes if the computerized system would lead to wholesale cheating.” is similar to what people against any form of automation often say, which is a backward way of thinking. If he really means well, I would like to see him come up with a plan that proposes how automation of the polls can be done while considering established information security standards and best practices that should be put in place to help the system be less susceptible to cheating.

  4. I am not sure such hacking awards make sense, but then again I am not sure that the COMELEC’s vision of computerized system makes sense either. Don’t get me wrong; I am a great supporter of using optical scan machines to count ballots. I have extensive experience using such in the US and if done right, the results can be available within minutes of the polls closing, by the printing of a “receipt” tape showing totals though without any write-in or other errors.
    However, I am confused why the results need to be reported by computer. At each polling place, the results should be posted and then copies given to any and all who want them. The results can be called in by phone to COMELEC and anyone else such as the news media and all candidates and parties, and then followed up by hard copies later. That’s how the US state of Massachusetts does it.
    Under a Massachusetts-type scenario there is no hacking since the optical scan counters (40 year old technology) are not connected to any network. They are stand-alone machines into which the VOTERS feed the ballots. The election officials are not allowed to touch the ballots. Polls close at 8:00 PM. Multiple copies of the results tape is printed with one affixed to the door of the polling place. Then they go about counting errors and write-ins and securing the ballots, all in full public view.

  5. I think it’s pretty stupid. Why would you spend government money (people’s money) to award to a hacker. P100 Million, why? But that’s really stupid. Not unless they change the argument, then they may proceed with the idea. Or, is this a motivation for more hackers? Tanga talaga!

  6. Before you guys get off and starting calling the stupidity, I would advise that you read first about “white hat hackers”. Employing white hats is a great security practice in uncovering vulnerabilities in any system. Competition of this kind usually have some kind of reward (may it be monetary or token of recognition) but usually have a NDA to allow the hosting firm enough time to provide a fix.
    In its most basic form, it is like fighting fire with fire. And if somebody will question that kind of strategy then you also need to read about how strategically using fire can help contain brush/forest fires.
    If I were the senator, I would rephrase it to something like .5M for each vulnerability uncovered which will be deducted from the contract cost.

  7. I didn’t know we had USD 2M pocket money to spare. why not use that for education, transportation, the poor rather than wasting it on hackers and this stupid automated voting project.

  8. Testing the system is nice and absolutely a good idea (granted the system is not designed for cheating which i doubt too) haha!
    What bothers me is,where will he get the reward?

  9. now that you mention it, san nga nya kukunin yung reward? Nevertheless, this is a good way to check if the automated process is..hmmm “incorruptible” haha. Ok sana kung i-hire na agad ng NBI yung hacker na yun for crime busting sa online fraud, just like what the FBI are doing in the States. 🙂

  10. I agree that it’s good to test the system, and challenging hackers to look for vulnerabilities would be good. I don’t think using a “hacker” to do this job is problematic. Remember the movie “Catch Me If You Can”? That fraudster guy was eventually hired by the FBI to identify and solve bank frauds.
    The bigger issue here at hand is indeed the money. Where will we get this? And is it justifiable enough to spend it here rather than in other issues such as poverty alleviation or improvement or education or creation of jobs?

  11. i read in the newspaper somebody saying that the asking hackers to see if they can see any vulnerabilities in the system is good, but that the money for the reward should come from the winning bidder. i agree.

  12. Yeah… what if a real hacker successfully hack the site and worst, destroy all files? It will just cost too much to the government. Not a good idea.. and where the hell will Sen Cayetano get the money for the ‘reward’? From the government fund which came from each Filipinos? ugh, what a waste… better think of a more substantial idea and not for the benefit of ‘greedy politicians’ only.

  13. ha! this is sure fire a hackable system…for 2 million dollars? some chinese hackers can do this, or some russian teens can simply hack this system.

  14. i don’t really care where he will get the money… it’s just 2 million compared to billions which will go to waste when we all found out later na vulnerable pala sa hacking yan automated machines na yan. how many billions of pesos have gone to waste because of such gov’t projects na wala naman nangyari? after the politicians have pocketed their huge shares on such projects.. they don’t really care if the project went well or not, which is a proven fact. sad to say we filipinos have a hard time learning from our past.

  15. mahirap yan…. if you enlist to join the hacking team, the FBI or CIA might add you in their “Must Watch List”….
    Para ka na rin nag sabi na… “All backrobbers… join my contest to open my Bank Vault”….

  16. for hackers breakthru is better than the money because safety comes first. if ever for instance I hack the system Im pretty sure that i’ll be arrested when claiming the money. lahat ng controversy pati sa mga online transaction ibibintang sayo yan para di ka na makagamit ng kahit anong system.

  17. @carlinux I think its not yet deployed and not yet on the air, you stil have much time of seaching the program language and the back end that they used. secondly the protocols and network connection. But In my case i dont wanna be bother with it. Good Luck na lang sa comelec.

  18. Si Sen Alan Cayetano. wala na ngang magawa yan sa senate. kung ma hack man yan ng mga hackers san siya kukuha ng 2 millions dollars na ipambabayad niya? sa kaban ng bayan? o sa bulsa niya? wala nmn ganyang budget para ipambayad niya? kung galing sa bulsa niya aba mayaman pala si alan cayetano. hoy bago mang alok ng ganyan cguruduhin mo munang may pambayad ka. dakdak ka lang ng dakdak wala nmn magawa. puro salita lang yan

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