The State of Democracy: 11-Year-Old Hacks A State Election Replica Website in Just 10 Minutes

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
By Paul Martin

An 11-year-old was able to hack a replica government election website in under 10 minutes while dozens of other children did it in under 30 minutes.

By John Vibes
August 22, 2018

At DEFCON 26, the world’s largest hacking convention that recently took place in Las Vegas, an 11-year-old boy managed to hack a replica of the Florida state election website and change voting results in less than 10 minutes. Organizers of the event said that at least 30 children were able to hack similar replica websites in under a half hour, including an 11-year-old girl who completed the job in just under 15 minutes.

One of the attractions of the event was the “DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village,” which allowed kids as young as 8 to take a shot at stealing a simulated election.

Nico Sell, co-founder of the non-profit r00tz Asylum, told the PBS NewsHour that these kids were able to hack sites that were exactly like those used for official elections in the United States.

“These are very accurate replicas of all of the sites. These things should not be easy enough for an 8-year-old kid to hack within 30 minutes, it’s negligent for us as a society,” Sell says.

Sell said that when they first tried a similar challenge last year, adult hackers were able to crack the websites in under five minutes.

“So this year we decided to bring the voting village to the kids as well,” she said.

However, the government is not ready to admit that they are using such vulnerable technology to conduct their elections.

The National Association of Secretaries of State issued a statement saying that they were “ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections.”

However, they also claimed that it is not possible to replicate an actual government election website.

“It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols. While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote-counting equipment and could never change actual election results,”’ the statement read.

In other words, they claim that they will still be able to retain the actual results, even if a legitimate election website happens to be tampered with. Sell pointed out that the response from election officials shows that they either don’t understand or don’t care about the chaos that can be caused by false election results being published, even if they are corrected after the fact.

The Rest…HERE

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