For hackers at Defcon hacking US voting machines was a piece of cake

The Democratic party in the United States along with some mainstream media giants are convinced that Russia hacked the 2016 Presidential elections. Therefore, to analyze the threat of hacking voting machines in the country Defcon, one of the world’s largest hacker conventions in Las Vegas, Nevada invited hackers to expose the vulnerabilities in these machines and hack it if they can.

For those who are unaware of the structure on which Defcon operates, the groups participating in the convention are divided into different villages based on the theme of their project.

More:  Hacker Selling Entire US Voters' Registration Records on Dark Net

As for Defcon, the hackers were given 30 voting machines to mess with, which happened for the first time in the history of the United States. It turned out, for hackers, it’s a piece of cake to hack voting machines who decide the future of democracy of the nation.

According to one of the Village organizers professor and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Distributed Systems Lab Mr. Matt Blaze,

“Within the first hour and a half, after we opened, people were starting to discover new things about these machines that experts like myself who’ve been looking at these things for 10 years haven’t previously discovered. “I think that goes to show how important it is to have a really broad range of people a broad community looking at this kind of technology if you have any hope of wanting to trust it to do something serious.”

In a Tweet from DEFCON VotingVillage‏ it was revealed that 90 min after doors opened, hackers were able to take “Complete remote control on the operating system level of the Winvote voting terminal (including election data.)”

Winvote came up as the worst voting machine ever where one of the researchers told SCMag that a hacker was able to take full control of the machine wirelessly even though none of these machines have wireless access.

One researcher hacked the WinVote to load Windows Media Player on the machine. While Diebold voting machine was so easy to hack that hackers took over the machine by using default login credentials.

To sum up the whole hacking campaign, it can be concluded that the manufacturers of these voting machines are still using Windows XP on the system which provides an attacker to breach the so-called security of these machines by simply entering default username and passwords. 

Just like WannaCry ransomware which infection tens of thousands of Windows based devices in hundreds of countries around the world.

This doesn’t mean that Russia or any other state sponsored group hacked these machines but if they did; it shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s like putting a cup milk in front of a cat then expect it to sit and watch.

It’s also not a surprise that hackers can take over voting machines. Last year, Brazilian hackers claimed that voting machines in Brazil were deliberately flawed with serious vulnerabilities. Another hacker going by the name of Andres Sepulveda claimed that he rigged elections all across Latin America in favor of right-wing candidates for around eight years.

The countries included Costa Rica Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Honduras. As for the United States, it’s time for privacy advocates to bring the issue to the attention of those making decisions on behalf of the nation.

Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.