After this weekend’s DEFCON hackathon conference in Las Vegas, the safety of the US election systems causes citizens great concern. At the conference, an 11-year-old easily hacked into an imitation Florida state voting website and changed the election results in less than 10 minutes.
DEFCON is a large hacker conference which is held annually in Las Vegas. At DEFCON, cybersecurity professionals and hackers are gathered to try their best to break into different computer systems, which shows how easy it is to invade software and hardware.
At this year’s DEFCON, children are also invited to use their techniques to hack websites in the DEFCON Voting Village, manipulating the voting results.
Nico Sell, one of the event’s committee members, pointed out that another 11-year-old girl also successfully invaded the Florida simulation election website. The girl tripled the number of votes for a candidate in 15 minutes. Nico Sell claimed that the event showed the serious vulnerability issues of the US electoral system since more than 30 children can invade different simulated election sites in less than 30 minutes.
The National Association of Secretaries of State responded that on the night of the election, the website is only used to publish the preliminary results of elections. Since the site is not connected to voting equipment, the invasion of the website could not change the actual election results. Moreover, each state uses a unique network and a custom built-in database, hence, it is difficult to replicate the election website.
However, Nico Sell also stated that even though the website is only used to release the election results, it can still make citizens confuse.
“These are very accurate replicas of all of the sites.” Nico Sell told the PBS NewsHour on Sunday.
“These things should not be easy enough for an 8-year-old kid to hack within 30 minutes, it is negligent for us as a society.”