It took less than 90 seconds for hackers to break into the electronic voting machines at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas over the weekend.
A report by website The Register said that ‘the first cracks in the systems’ defenses started appearing within 90 seconds, revealing an embarrassing low level of security before a machine was hacked wirelessly.
Jake Braun, who originally sold the idea for such conference, said, “Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible. Thanks to the contributions of the hacker community today, we’ve uncovered even more about exactly how.
“The scary thing is we also know that our foreign adversaries – including Russia, North Korea, Iran – possess the capabilities to hack them too, in the process undermining principles of democracy and threatening our national security.”
The US had invested heavily into exploring the options of adopting EVMs particularly after the counting disaster in 2000 Presidential elections.
— Bradley Barth (@BBB1216BBB) July 28, 2017
The "security" of these WINvote machines is so bad. Running WinXP, autorun enabled and hard-coded WEP wifi password. pic.twitter.com/AlOiAPcRra
— Victor Gevers (@0xDUDE) July 28, 2017
The latest development on the hackability of the EVMs assumes significance in light of the raging debate in India over the machines’ questionable credibility. EVMs are being used for all elections in India and the machines came under heavy scanner after the assembly elections were conducted in five states, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur in February-March this year.
Many rival political parties had blamed the hacking of EVMs for the unprecedented victory of the BJP in UP after it won 325 lout of 403 assembly seats.
This had prompted the Election Commission to invite political parties for hackathon but they were not allowed to tinker with the motherboards of the machines. The challenge to hack EVMs was also restricted to Indian nationals.
These conditions had prompted several leading political parties to pull out of the hackathon challenge.