The safety of our election systems didn’t exactly earn a vote of confidence following this weekend’s DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas. One session reportedly featured an 11-year-old who successfully hacked into a replica website for the Florida Secretary of State and changed election results.
It took the young hacker only 10 minutes to break in and gain access.
The child took part in a DefCon Voting Machine Hacking Village, PBS reports, where kids as young as eight years old attempted to access replica web pages and change information.
“These websites are so easy to hack we couldn’t give them to adult hackers — they’d be laughed off the stage,” said Jake Braun, a former White House liaison for the Department of Homeland Security in an interview with ABC News. Braun said the conference invited younger hackers to DefCon because it would be a “waste of time” showcasing experts hacking these sites.
In a statement, the National Association for Secretaries of State questioned the hacking village events, claiming they don’t realistically portray a scenario where these machines could be accessed.
“Providing conference attendees with unlimited physical access to voting machines, most of which are no longer in use, does not replicate accurate physical and cyber protections established by state and local governments before and on Election Day,” said NASS.
Meanwhile, ES&S — the company that provides election equipment across the U.S. — emailed customers assuring their machines were safe, Buzzfeed reports.
“Physical security measures make it extremely unlikely that an unauthorized person, or a person with malicious intent, could ever access a voting machine,” read the email.
This is not the first time DefCon has tackled election security. Last year, it took attendees less than a day to successfully find and exploit flaws in five different types of voting machines.