Hackers at convention break into US voting machine

Hackers at the Def Con convention in Las Vegas have managed to break into a US voting machine and take control of it.

The annual event brings together so-called ethical hackers to highlight and discuss the vulnerabilities in existing cyber security tools.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The event saw hackers attempt to break into a range of machines, using both hardware and wireless signals to gain access and take control of them, which the hackers claim were running out of date software.

According to CNET, one of the machines hacked was secured with the password “ABCDE” – which was the default and could not be changed – and was used in a US county election until 2015 before being scrapped.

Hacking demonstrators at the convention were able to break into the machine using its WiFi system, and exploited an issue in Windows XP that was first discovered in 2003. The fix had not been patched by the machine and was vulnerable as a result.

Hackers were then able to get remote access to the machine, potentially offering the ability to change votes.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Those at Def Con also noted only a simple mechanical lock protected the machine’s USB port, which could also be used to access the machine.

The conference and attention on voter machines follows allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The US is one of only a few countries in the world to have already switched to electronic voting booths.

UK voters are still asked to use a pencil and paper in order to cast their ballot, in part to prevent the risk of cyber attacks around elections.


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