Home News Makers of Voting Machines are worried about upcoming DEFCON

Makers of Voting Machines are worried about upcoming DEFCON

by Harikrishna Mekala

According to Voting Village organizers, they have been getting a bad time getting their palms on machines for white-hat hackers to test at the next Defcon situation in Las Vegas (held in August). That’s because polling machine makers are jumbling to get the machines off eBay and keep them away from the hands of the “good guy” hackers.

Village co-organizer Harri Hursti told attendees at the Shmoocon hacking organization this month they were having an obstinate time preparing for this year’s play, in part because voting machine companies sent threatening letters to eBay resellers. The intimidating missives told vendors that selling the machines is illegal which is false.

Electronic voting machine manufacturers and anyone with a stick in keeping their flaws secret have oodles of reasons to stop Defcon’s Voting Village from having a repeat appearance of last year’s (perfectly legal) mass hacking of e-vote boxes.

Voting machine hacking at Defcon isn’t new; the discussion has been joyfully cracking voting machines since 2004. The problems with voting machine security and the industry’s unwillingness to recognize the problems discovered at Defcon have ensured the voting machine hacking trial has been coming back year after year.

In fact, the machines are so badly prepared, notoriously backdoored, and easily hacked that even Defcon hackers massively stress out in discussions and chat spaces about their own local and federal voting process.

As you’d expect, e-vote machine hacking was more famous than ever last year at Defcon.

But 2017’s e-vote hackfest was particularly different because it was officially the first time a large-scale hack of voting machines had occurred because the act of hacking them is regarded illegal. Not at Defcon’s 2017’s mass e-vote hack-a-palooza: That was gratitude to the hard work of law professor Andrea Matwyshyn. She cleared the way for arrangements of hackers to legally throw everything they had at voting machines for all to see.

Voting machine producers with anything to hide couldn’t have been happy about that. If you get the headlines after last year’s Defcon, the results that came out of the Voting Village were beyond questionable. Shocking, even.

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