NEW YORK (MainStreet) This is one of those incidents that may be the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If so, it does not augur well for the future of elections.
The FBI announced earlier this month that a student from California State, San Marcos campus named Matthew Weaver, 22 of Huntington Beach, Ca., was sentenced to one year in prison for engaging in identity theft while trying to steal a campus election. He wanted to become student body president and engaged in some high tech voter fraud to do so.
Weaver stole the identities and passwords of his fellow students. He then used them to access e-mail and Facebook accounts which enabled him to cast about 630 votes for himself and for his friends who also were on the ballot.
He used a small electronic device known as a keylogger to obtain the information. A keylogger is a type of surveillance software that records keystrokes to a log file. It also records instant messages, email, and any information typed at any time using a keyboard. The log file can then be sent to a specified receiver. Some will also record email addresses used and Website URLs visited.
These devices are often used by employers to ensure employees are not using company computers to cruise porn sites - or other non-work related uses - during work hours. Unfortunately, keyloggers can also be embedded in spyware allowing this type of information to be transmitted to an unknown third party.
Ultimately, Weaver stole 745 passwords from classmates.
He pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud, unauthorized access of a computer, and identity theft. Apparently showing little remorse and still trying to be the smartest person in the room, Weaver continued to deny his crime. He even went so far, in Clintonian fashion, to try to get sympathetic media coverage about his plight.