How US Voting Machine Got Hacked In 90 Minutes At DefCon 2017

Hackers compromising voting machines defcon 2017
Image: CNET

Short Bytes: At the DefCon 2017 last week, various groups of hacker and security researchers managed to get into 30 voting machines used in the United States. They were able to do the same in a matter of an hour or so, even playing music on one of the machines.

There is a lot of hacking and penetration testing happening at the DefCon every year. But this year’s DefCon gave the hackers an opportunity to try their hands on around 30 voting machines used in various US elections.

These machines varied across five different types, and according to an event coordinator Matt Blaze, most of these were bought on eBay. These voting machine models are still being used across the United States with only one being decommissioned.

At the Voting Machine Hacking Village, there were groups of security researchers and white hats trying to compromise the voting machines and even playing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” as if they turned it into a jukebox. It took around one and a half hour to break down first ones of the 30 digital ballots.

It is mainly after the recent US Presidential elections that the vulnerability issues of the voting machines are being observed with more attention. “This software just isn’t up to modern standards. It’s not even as strongly protected as a PC,” Brandon Pfeifer, a security researcher told USA Today.

Most of the compromise was done physically, with almost no one managed to break the machines wirelessly. The organizers hope to run full end-to-end voting network simulations at the next year’s event to get a greater insight into the weaknesses and issues.

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Aditya Tiwari

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, Apple Watch, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]
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