… DEF CON is getting more deeply involved with election security than ever before—this year, the event will host its first Voting Machine Hacking Village. DEF CON villages are offshoots of the main event, where attendees get to tinker with technology. At the vote-hacking village, they’ll be invited to tamper with voting hardware and software. In addition to the hackers, the village is expecting visitors from Congress, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Homeland Security, and voting machine vendors. Moss hopes to discover just how easy it is to compromise a voting system. Although states test components of their systems, Moss couldn’t find any examples of a state testing their complete voting apparatus. Most manufacturers, he explained, test voting machines for their ability to withstand humidity rather than hackers. This is worrisome, particularly at a time when Americans are suddenly obsessed with qualifying the security of their electoral systems.
“We wanted to get our hands on enough equipment to build and run a complete fake election,” Moss told Gizmodo. He’s been tracking down the machines on eBay. The software, however, has been harder to obtain. “We couldn’t get our hands on one key piece of software that acts as the backend. We have some leads on them but couldn’t get them in time for this year.”
Security experts typically outline three possible routes of attack on elections. One is the Russiagate scenario that’s trickled out in intelligence assessments and headlines over the last year—an attacker steals compromising information from the leading candidate’s campaign, perhaps mixes it with faked documents to stir up even more scandal, and then leaks that information to level the playing field. The second possibility involves breaching states’ voter rolls and removing names or otherwise altering the data to make life difficult for voters as they show up to the polls. The third option is attacking voting machines directly to manipulate the vote count.
It’s this final possibility that’s the most exciting for hackers (and most alarming to everyone else). Although US officials have repeatedly said that there’s no evidence to suggest vote tallies were altered during the 2016 election, the idea of making a direct, measurable impact on an election—even if it’s just during a practice run at a conference—is tantalizing.
Full Article: The Politics of Hacking in the Age of Trump.