DEF CON Report Finds Widespread Flaw in Widely Used Ballot-Counting Machines

Six information-security experts who participated in DEF CON’s Voting Village issued a report on flaws discovered in voting machines and computer systems. One of which would allow an attacker to remotely hijack the voting system and alter the vote count, changing the result of the election. “Hacking just one of these machines could enable an attacker to flip the Electoral College and determine the outcome of a presidential election,” the authors of the report warned.

The report documented dozens of severe vulnerabilities in voting systems. They found four major areas of “grave and undeniable” concern need to be addressed. One of the most critical is the lack of any sort of supply-chain security for voting machines—there is no way to test the machines to see if they have been tampered with or if the components have been altered. Other flaws included.

“A voting tabulator that is currently used in 23 states is vulnerable to be remotely hacked via a network attack. Because the device in question is a high-speed unit designed to process a high volume of ballots for an entire county, hacking just one of these machines could enable an attacker to flip the Electoral College and determine the outcome of a presidential election​.

A second critical vulnerability in the same machine was disclosed to the vendor a decade ago​, yet that machine, which was used into 2016, still contains the flaw.

Another machine used in 18 states was able to be hacked in only two minutes, while it takes the average voter six minutes to vote. This indicates one could realistically hack a voting machine in the polling place on Election Day within the time it takes to vote.

Hackers had the ability to wirelessly reprogram, via mobile phone, a type of electronic card used by millions of Americans to activate the voting terminal to cast their ballots​. This vulnerability could be exploited to take over the voting machine on which they vote and cast as many votes as the voter wanted.”

 

Photo: "142/365 - Time to vote" by Paul Hudson is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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