Voting systems in the United States are so woefully hackable, even an 8-year-old could do it. At least, that’s the conceit of a competition cosponsored by the Democratic National Committee at next week’s Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas. The contest will include children, ages 8 to 16, who will be tasked with penetrating replicas of the websites that secretaries of state across the country use to publish election results. They’ll vie for $2,500 in prize money, $500 of which will come from the DNC and be awarded to the child who comes up with the best defensive strategy for states around the country. The DNC’s chief technology officer, Raffi Krikorian, says he was inspired to team up with Def Con after scoping out an event at last year’s conference called Voting Village, where attendees—grown-ups this time—got to hack into various models of voting machines and find flaws. “We wanted to figure out how we could use this to our advantage,” Krikorian tells WIRED. “Let’s get those lessons back to secretaries of state.”
The Voting Village, which caters to experienced hackers, will continue this year. But the organizers behind the event wanted to expand their work to cover one of the most glaringly obvious holes in election security: state websites that post election results. International elections have already proven how these types of hacks can go horribly wrong. In 2014, Russian hackers penetrated the website of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission and changed the election result, prompting Russian media to run with the false news.
But getting kids involved was more than just a cutesy ploy to get the public to pay attention to election security, says Jake Braun, who worked for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama and is organizing the event. State election sites are so deeply flawed, Braun says, no adult hackers would be interested in cracking them. “The hackers would laugh us off the stage if we asked them to do this.”
Full Article: The DNC Enlists Kids in Its Fight Against Hackers | WIRED.