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Hackers Hack Voting Machines In Less Than Two Hours

Shubham Kishore
A man takes part in a hacking contest during the Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on July 29, 2017.

Security flaws in U.S. voting systems were apparent when Russian hackers managed to breach it in 21 states in the presidential election in 2016.

Now some participants were able to successfully hack the software used in U.S. voting machines Friday at DEF CON, a 25-year-old hacking conference in Las Vegas, with one doing it within 90 minutes, the Register reported.

Hackers got a crack at 30 computer-powered ballot boxes kept at the conference. In less than 90 minutes, one of the hackers was able to breach the software of the machines. One of the machine was later hacked wirelessly, reports said

READ: Russian Hacking: Passwords, Emails Stolen From UK Ministers And Sold On Dark Web

The machines that were used for the hacking were either brought at government auctions or from eBay. An analysis of the machines revealed that while some of them were running on old software, others had open ports that could be used to instal other softwares and tamper with the voting.

Carsten Schurmann, who broke into the machines in minutes, said that he could turn the machine on and off, read the data stored in it and felt that he could even change the votes, Forbes reported

Schurmann said after finding a Wi-fi access point in the voting machine, he used a tool named Wireshark to get the IP address of the device.  As he knew that the machine ran on an old version of Microsoft Windows, he ran a hacking tool named Metasploit.  

The tool was able to breach the system by “exploiting an old vulnerability” that has never been rectified before. By doing this, he got access into the system and hence could change the records stored in it. The fact that the machines can be hacked wirelessly is even more worrisome.  

With the speculation of Russians hacking the U.S. election system in last year's election refusing to go away, this new development has triggered debates about the vulnerability of the U.S. voting system. 

“Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible. Thanks to the contributors of the hacker community today, we’ve uncovered even more about exactly how,” Jake Braun, who had convinced founder of DEF CON Jeff Moss to agree to the challenge idea, told the Register. 

“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 the principles of democracy and threatening our national security,” he added. 

As news of the hacking of the voting system at DEF CON became viral on Twitter people started demanding a return to paper ballots. 

READ: Russia Hacking Led Obama Administration To Call Kremlin On The 'Red Phone'​

The Department of  Homeland Security officials confirmed in June that Russian hackers were successful in gaining  access to the voting system and stealing undisclosed information, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Intelligence agencies of U.S. had earlier claimed the hacking of Democratic Party emails was done at the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported. The Russian president has, however, denied the allegation. 

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