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EU referendum petition hijacked by bots

EU referendum petition hijacked by bots

Security flaw: According to reports on the ‘4chan’ message board, some users have created scripted programs designed to automatically sign the petition.

security-eu-referendumSo far, the petition currently has over 3.6 million names, with thousands of signatures appearing on the petition from individuals in Vatican City and Antarctica. The House of Commons petition committee has since claimed it has removed 77,000 signatures.

“With any online property that is designed for interaction, you need a mechanism in place to defeat automated means of adding content,” Rik Ferguson of computer security firm Trend Micro told the BBC.

“4chan is famous for this sort of mischief – and if websites don’t have systems in place, they will get abused.”

Bot identification

According to the BBC, the government’s petitions website doesn’t have a security system in place to detect bots.

Some members of the 4chan message board have claimed responsibility for the hijack. “I voted 33,000 times. Left a script running while I was taking a shower,” wrote one member.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already said there will be no second vote, but the petitions committee has said it will continue to monitor the petition for any suspicious activity.