Miley Cyrus vs Edward Snowden: Hackers Fight to Rig Time’s Person of the Year Poll

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By David Gilbert | November 28, 2013 3:07 AM EST

Hackers have compromised the voting system for Time's Person of the Year Award pushing twerking popstar Miley Cyrus to the top of the list.

However this is not the only campaign being carried out, with members of infamous online imageboard 4Chan and hacktivist collective Anonymous also looking to usurp the prestigious poll and get Edward Snowden to the top of the list.

As it stands, the Miley Cyrus fans are winning the battle of the hackers while Time sits back and looks on as its online poll is hijacked for the third time in four years.

Of course Time's online poll is simply meant as a reflection of who the public thinks is the Person of the Year, with the actual award being decided by the editors of Time magazine itself. While these judges are unlikely to be swayed by the result of this poll, the continued hacking of the list must be an embarrassment for the company.

The poll was first rigged in 2009 to get 4Chan founder Christopher 'Moot' Poole to the top of the list, while last year the hackers decided that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un deserved the award.

Lessons not learnt

However, as the Daily Dot reports, the lessons learnt in previous years have not led to improved security this year, despite Time moving from Polldaddy to Poptip as the provider of their voting mechanism.

The new platform requires voters to sign in with their Twitter or Facebook accounts, which theoretically should make it harder for those trying to rig the voting.

However, a hacker called Gains, along with his programming partner Marek, who were involved in last year's vote rigging, were able to crack the system within an hour and earlier this week decided that they would like to see pop sensation and uber-twerker Miley Cyrus grace the front cover of Time's Person of the Year edition.

Automated

The automated voting system the pair created involved using publically available Facebook ID numbers and use that to cast a vote without the person in question having any idea they were being used.

The pair discussed a couple of other possible candidates to promote using the system including Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brothers accused of the Boston Bombing. But Cyrus was chosen as the "perfect mix of controversy and lulz."

Within a couple of hours of the decision being taken, Cyrus jumped from 15th position to 5th and at the time of publication Cyrus was leading the poll with 28.9% of the vote, ahead of Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Indian state Gujarat in second place with 13.34% and Snowden in third place who has 12.2%.

Snowden

Snowden, a legitimate contender for the overall title in his own right, is also the choice of both Anonymous and 4Chan and both groups are pushing their members to vote for the former NSA operative who is currently in exile in Russia.

The infamous 4Chan imageboard /b/ is also calling on supporters to create scripts similar to the one created by Gains and Marek, but even if someone does come up with an automated program to rig the voting, it won't be enough says Gains.

"I don't think /b/ has a chance to make what they want to do a reality," Gains told the Daily Dot. "Whenever, if ever, they figure out how to do what my program does, Miley should be number one, which they'll have to recover from. This is just another edgy attempt by /b/ to be more infamous. /b/'s losing its touch."

Voting for this year's Person of the Year will finish on 4 December and the combined winner of the reader polls will be announced on 6 December, with Time's Person of the Year announced on 11 December.

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