In a demonstration that proves just how easy voter fraud may be with electronic voting machines, hackers were able to break into the most modern “secure” devices obtained by a hacking conference in about 90 minutes during a test of how well they would hold up.
According to the Register, the machines were obtained by the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas this past weekend to demonstrate just how easy or difficult it would be for a computer hacker to get access to the systems.
“The genie is out of the bottle,” Def Con founder Jeff Moss said, according to Fortune. “The age of interference in voting has arrived on a large scale through electronics.”
The “voting village” was the first event of its kind in the 25-year history of Def Con. The machines were purchased through government auctions or eBay and represented a range of voting platforms used across the country, including companies like Diebold and Sequoia.
“Some were running very outdated and exploitable software — such as unpatched versions of OpenSSL and Windows XP and CE,” the Register reported. “Some had physical ports open that could be used to install malicious software to tamper with votes.”
A machine from WinVote used in Virginia county elections was the easiest for hackers to gain access to. It still had an unpatched version of Windows XP that had the MS03-026 vulnerability — a vulnerability fixed by Microsoft all the way back in 2003.
It’s worth pointing out that intrusions would have been logged, even on the WinVote machine, and that all of the equipment that was used in the voting village experiment wasn’t used in last year’s election. So, if you were looking for more evidence for your Russia conspiracy theory here, sorry — even though it was revealed that Russians tried hacking into America’s voting machines, it wasn’t one of these.
However, it does paint a chilling picture of what could happen if election officials and voting machine manufacturers don’t stay on top of their game.
“Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible. Thanks to the contributions of the hacker community today, we’ve uncovered even more about exactly how,” said Jake Braun, the man who convinced Def Con to run the vote-hacking competition.
“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.”
And that’s assuming that the enemy here is foreign. It would be more difficult, of course, for international spies to get enough time alone with enough voting machines to make a difference in a national election. Local officials would have an easier time doing so — meaning our greatest enemy to secure, free and fair electionsmay not be the Russians but the Democrats and Republicans among us.
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