What the hack!

Recently I came across a Web site that sells software for predicting American Idol results: DialIdol.com

The idea is really neat: to automate diaing to the voting phone numbers, measure rate of “busy” signal, and make prediction based on that. It works with many TV shows – including Canadian Idol. And it’s in true spirit of hacking – commodity technology is used to implement a brilliant heuristic with no harm done.

Well, there is a potential for harm in it. If the software goes out of control (as in: becomes hugely popular), it may pose a denial of service attack on the TV shows. Just like the Morris worm brought down the Internet.

Can the Idol show results be hacked? Obviously you can spoof your caller ID and make a million calls supporting your favourite talent. But you have to pay for the calls, which limits the impact – and avoiding the payment is a crime. Besides, even if you succeed, few will notice, as talents in question tend to be… insignificant.

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