Concerns about security ahead of nationwide votes in the United States has been heightened, after an 11-year-old boy managed to hack into a replica of US vote website (Florida’s election results) in 10 minutes, changed names and tallies during a hackers convention.
Authorities said the boy was the quickest of 35 children, ages six to 17, who all eventually hacked into copies of the US vote website of six swing states during the three-day Def Con security convention over the weekend, the event said on Twitter on Tuesday.
The National Association of Secretaries of State – who are responsible for tallying votes – said it
welcomed the convention’s efforts, as Def Con further disclosed that the event was meant to test the strength of the US election infrastructure and details of the vulnerabilities would be passed onto the states.
DEFCON is the world’s larger hacker conference held annually in Las Vegas, where hackers and cyber security experts try to break into all kinds of computer security systems, highlighting how easy it can be to manipulate software and hardware. At this year’s conference, DefCon added children to its list of those invited, specifically to try to hack websites in the DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village, a part of the hackathon that includes “13 imitation websites linked to voting in presidential battleground states,” according to PBS.
Emmett Brewer, the 11-year-old who successfully hacked the replicated Florida voting site, wasn’t the only child who got into the election systems at the conference. In total, about 50 kids ranging in age from 8 to 16 attended the conference, DEFCON said in a tweet, and around 30 of them were able to hack into the imitation election websites.
The National Association of Secretaries of State, however said the actual systems used by states would have additional protections.
“It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilise unique networks
and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols,” the association said.