Hackers reportedly managed to penetrate multiple U.S. voting machines in a relatively short period of time at a conference in Las Vegas this week, a cautionary demonstration for people concerned with the integrity and security of American elections.
Thegroup of hackers attending the annual DEF CONconference reportedly took just 90 minutes to compromise 30 different voting machines, breaking through differentcompanies’ security measures, including Winvote, Diebold, and Sequoia. In some cases, the machines included external ports that could be used to plug in malware, while othersperhaps more concerninghad poorly securedWi-Fi connectivity enabled, allowing the hackers to breach the systems remotely.
Jeff Braun, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Chicago, reportedly convinced the DEF CON conference to take up the demonstration, hoping to show whether voting machine companies’ assurances of security could be trusted. After the event concluded, he told the Register thatthe perils are obvious.
“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,Braun said.
The scary thing is we also know that our foreign adversariesincluding Russia, North Korea, Iranpossess the capabilities to hack them too, in the process undermining principles of democracy and threatening our national security.”
Election cybersecurity has been a hot topic in recent months, thanks to the U.S. intelligence communitys broad concurrence that the Russian government attempted to interfere in the presidential election. Specifically, its been widely alleged that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Hillary Clintons campaign chairman John Podesta, in an attempt to funnel damaging information about her into the public consciousness.
Its also been reported that Russian hackers accessed U.S. voting machines in 39 states in the run-up to the election, although theres no evidence that any votes were changed.
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