Voting Machines Easily Hacked at DefCon Conference

Voting booths /
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July 31, 2017

Voting machines were easily hacked at one of the nation's largest cyber security conferences in Las Vegas, where hackers tested the systems' security and potential vulnerabilities.

The breaches occurred at the DefCon hacking conference, where participants hacked all 30 voting machines present by a variety of means within a day, Fox News reports. One machine was penetrated in just 90 minutes.

"It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack it," security consultant Thomas Richards told the Hill, looking at a Premier Election Solutions machine currently in use in Georgia.

DefCon founder Jeff Moss said that the purpose of the exercise was "to raise awareness and find out for ourselves what the deal is. I'm tired of reading misinformation about voting system security."

Hacking methods varied, but included using Google to find passwords and going into the system without a specialized password and messing with the machines' administrative functions.

There have been concerns from some officials, including President Donald Trump, that voting machines could be hacked to manipulate election results.

"Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible," Jake Braun, who sold Moss on the voter machine idea earlier this year, told the Register. "Thanks to the contributions of the hacker community today, we've uncovered even more about exactly how."

"The scary thing is we also know that our foreign adversaries—including Russia, North Korea, Iran—possess the capabilities to hack them too, in the process undermining principles of democracy and threatening our national security," he added.

Brandon Pfeifer, a security expert, told USA Today that he went to the conference after all of the attention that has been drawn to voting security since the 2016 presidential election. Pfeifer's group is now working on a touch screen machine.

"It just took us a couple of hours on Google to find passwords that let us unlock the administrative functions on this machine," Pfeifer said. "Now we're working on where we can go from there."

Published under: Cyber Security , Hackers