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Group of hackers find U.S. voting machines still easy to hack

Researchers say the 2020 presidential election could be attacked without system upgrades

Photo (c) snapjet - Getty Images
A group of “ethical hackers” found over the summer that the voting machines set to be used in the 2020 election can still easily be breached.

In the third annual DefCon Voting Village report, security experts said they tested more than 100 voting machines and election systems used in the U.S. and found vulnerabilities. 

Voting Village team members tasked with cracking into voting machines at the annual DefCon cybersecurity event “were able to find new ways, or replicate previously published methods, of compromising every one of the devices,” the report said. 

"In many cases, the DEF CON participants tested equipment they had no prior knowledge of or experience with and worked with any tools they could find in a challenging setting with far fewer resources than a professional lab would typically have." 

Vulnerabilities reported by the researchers included weak default passwords and lackluster encryption. 

"As disturbing as this outcome is, we note that it is at this point and unsurprising result,"the group wrote. "However it is notable and especially disappointing that many of the specific vulnerabilities reported over a decade earlier are still present in these systems today." 

Without upgraded technology and the adoption of voter-marked paper ballot systems, the cybersecurity experts warned that the 2020 presidential election could end up “insecure, attacked, and ultimately distrusted.”

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