At the largest hacking conference in the world, Defcon 2018, there have been many surprising discoveries. However, the news that has shocked the United States is the hacking and modifications of election results by young kids. The 26th Defcon conference is being held in Las Vegas.
Reportedly, the 11-year-old Emmert Brewer managed to modify election results using a replicated Florida state election website. Another startling fact about this particular hacking was that it was carried out successfully in only ten minutes. Another 11-year-old girl not only hacked the Florida state election website but also tripled the number of votes in only 15 minutes.
At the annual cybersecurity conference, @defcon, an 11-year-old boy on Friday accessed a replica of the Florida secretary of state’s website in less than 10 minutes.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) August 13, 2018
This revelation was made at the Defcon Voting Machine Hacking Village event. This event allowed young kids to alter votes and control election results. The primary purpose of this event was to find out the flaws in voting machines and electoral websites.
According to the co-founder of r00tz Asylum, Nico Sell, the replicas created by the kids are quite accurate.
“These things should not be easy enough for an 8-year-old kid to hack within 30 minutes.”
This is actually the second consecutive time a Voting Village is being featured at the Defcon convention. At the event, organizers established decommissioned election equipment and hackers were allowed to identify new, concerning ways to hack the system. There was a separate room for under-age hackers.
In the first installment of the Voting Village, participants identified flaws in all five voting machines and one e-poll book of registered voters. This year, the village is quite bigger and better; it now features equipment ranging from smart card readers to tabulators apart from voting machines. All the tested equipment is currently used in the US.
Defcon’s founder Jeff Moss states “As far as the broad social impact it is Voting Village that has achieved the most notoriety in the conference’s history.”
However, there is unrest within the election equipment manufacturers. Just one day before the conference starts, an email was sent by ES&S to its customers to assure them that the participants will be assessing the internal components of the voting systems so that these become physically securer. ES&S is among the leading election equipment supplier in the US.
“Physical security measures make it extremely unlikely that an unauthorized person, or a person with malicious intent, could ever access a voting machine,” the email read.
On the other hand, the National Association of Secretaries of State is against the Voting Village and has issued this statement: “Our main concern with the approach taken by DEFCON is that it uses a pseudo-environment which in no way replicates state election systems, networks, or physical security.”
NASS claims that providing unrestricted physical access to voting machines cannot help in making the system securer and enable higher levels of cyber protection than those implemented by the government.
The organization also extended support to the teams participating in the Defcon to improve the voting system and remove vulnerabilities in voting machines and websites. However, the organization also clarified that it wasn’t an easy task to hack an original website because most states use unique networks and custom-built databases. These are always updates with new security protocols. In response to that, Nico Sell states that the NASS is not too serious about improving the voting system.
Here is a tweet from Defcon showing how another security researcher hacked Diebold TSX voting machine and defaced it with an Illuminati GIF. Thanks to BuzzFeed for sharing the tweet in their article.
— DEF CON VotingVillage (@VotingVillageDC) August 10, 2018