Is it possible to Hack the Presidency?

<![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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About Caleb Jenkins

Caleb Jenkins is an international speaker, author and 6 time Microsoft MVP award recipient, he currently works for Solera as a Director of Software Development. An entertaining and informative speaker who approaches software from a fresh perspective that spans UX, agile practices and technologies for enterprise customers from across the globe. Leading UX product design teams, coaching multi-team agile transformations and architecting and mentoring at some of the largest companies in the world, As a long time community leader and former Microsoft Developer Evangelist, Caleb is well known for his engaging speaking style, depth of knowledge and creative energy. Founder and Principal Mentor of Proaction Mentors, former UX Manager and Agile Coach, Senior Architect for Six Flags Corporation, Product Architect on a Cloud Marketing Platform, Caleb has made a career out of empowering others while building products and teams that delight customers and solve business needs. You can follow him on twitter (@calebjenkins) or his blog, DevelopingUX.com and if you're still reading this, then you could also subscribe to his blog RSS feed or sign up to receive updates by email