Child’s play or a signs of a serious security problem in one of the nation’s swing states? That’s the question confronting Florida election officials who are pushing back against reports that an 11-year-old hacked a replica of the state’s election website. Multiple media outlets over the weekend reported that children at a hacking conference in Las Vegas were able to easily hack into a version of the website that reports election results to the public. An 11-year-old boy got into Florida’s site within 10 minutes, while an 11-year-old girl did it in 15 minutes, according to the organizers of the event called DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village. … Florida’s election website that displays results is not connected to the actual local election systems responsible for tabulating votes. Instead, on election night supervisors upload unofficial results to state officials through a completely different network.
Still if someone was able to manipulate the website it could create confusion and sow doubts about the actual results once they were announced. Investigators in May found evidence of a cyberattack on a Tennessee county’s elections website from a computer in Ukraine, which likely caused the site to crash just as it was reporting vote totals during a primary.
Nico Sell, one of the organizers of the event, told PBS Newshour on Sunday that the replicas used at the conference were accurate representations.
“The site may be a replica but the vulnerabilities that these kids were exploiting were not replicas, they’re the real thing,” the television network quoted her. “I think the general public does not understand how large a threat this is, and how serious a situation that we’re in right now with our democracy.”