- April 8, 2016
- Posted by: Kerry Tomlinson, Archer News
- Categories: Cyber Crime, Cyberattack, Hacking, Posts with image, Vulnerabilities
Former lottery security guy did indeed tamper with random number generator, according to court documents.
The Tipton family got really lucky, but only on certain days of the year, it seems.
Investigators have filed court documents that say former Iowa Lottery security official Eddie Tipton, as well as his friends and family, won jackpot after jackpot between 2005 and 2011—and always on November 23rd or December 29th, according to ABC News.
One of Iowa’s cybersecurity experts analyzed the alleged crimes and came up with an answer—Tipton may have rigged the random number generator computer so that he could figure out the “random” number before the lottery took place.
Now, investigators have confirmed that analysis, saying they found evidence that Tipton tiptoed into the random number generator computer room and installed malware that allowed him to calculate the random number on certain days of the year.
Tipton, and now his brother, Tommy, a judge from Texas, have been charged with crimes. Eddie Tipton has already been found guilty of jackpot-rigging, and now Tommy has resigned as judge and has turned himself in to deal with his charges.
Rigging the system
Doug Jacobson, director of the Iowa State University Information Assurance Center, had suggested that a shady character with access to the random number generator computer could manipulate the system, so that the “random” number wouldn’t be so random after all.
The court documents show him new information about how Eddie Tipton is accused of carrying out the crime.
“One of the clever ideas was the fact the system was rigged to produce know numbers on certain dates,” said Jacobson.
“However, that might be what help get him caught,” he added.
The documents say investigators did forensics on the “random” draw that occurred on one of the suspicious dates of the year, when a Tipton friend won $2 million in a Wisconsin Megabucks lottery.
The computer had been audited before that draw. But after the audit, someone had added new code, the documents say.
That code set up a secret window into the random number system, allowing anyone who knew the secret to use an algorithm to figure out the winning numbers on certain days the year, according to investigators.
The set-up was tricky—it could only happen on three days of the year, and only if those days fell on certain days of the week, and could only happen after a certain time, the documents say.
“Upon re-creating the draws according to the algorithm, forensics examiners produced the very same ‘winning numbers’ from the program that was supposed to produce random numbers,” the court documents say.
Eddie Tipton’s attorney had argued during his first round of legal troubles last year that there was no evidence of him tampering with the lottery computer, according to The Des Moines Register.
“Eddie Tipton remains confident that he will eventually be exonerated of all these allegations,” his attorney Dean Stowers told The Des Moines Register after the new documents were filed.
“I know how the game works,” Eddie Tipton told the Daily Beast last year. “So either I’m an incredible genius that did something stupid or I’m just plain incredibly stupid. But how can I be an incredible genius and do something stupid at the same time?”
What went wrong?
Jacobson said if Eddie Tipton programmed the dates ahead of time, he might not have known what the jackpot would be on those days.
“So, it just happened that one of the predetermined dates match a time when the prize was very large,” Jacobson said.
“Large prizes get a lot of attention in Iowa and our law says the winner must identify themselves,” he explained.
“I wonder if he had chosen to either not play that day, or maybe only picked all but one number—and therefore receiving a smaller prize—if this would have gotten noticed,” Jacobson said.
“What do they say? ‘Greed will get you every time,’” said Jacobson.