Think of it as a stress test for democracy. Hackers plan to spend this weekend trying to break into more than 30 voting machines used in recent elections to see just how far they can get. U.S. election officials have consistently said that despite Russian attempts to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, no votes were tampered with. … However, experts in election voting software say no states routinely perform post-election vote audits to ensure that the reported vote count tallies with ballots, Singer said. Moreover, there were no forensic examinations of any of the voting machines used in the 2016 presidential election, in part because many election-machine vendor contracts prohibit it, Singer said. That’s a red flag for hackers at DefCon.
To see just how safe the voting machines that underpin democracy are, they’re bringing more than 30 voting machines purchased on eBay and at government surplus sales to Las Vegas where they’re setting up a “Voting Machine Hacking Village” at the conference at Caesar’s Palace.
There they’ll spend the weekend probing the network connecting the machines, physically attempting to alter the machines and hacking into their hardware.
The effort is being overseen by two well-known researchers in the field of election security, Matt Blaze and Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer programer who in 2005 showed it was possible to hack into a Diebold voting machine and change vote tallies, a technique now known as “the Hursti Hack.”