It seems that practically any electronic device and system in use today is susceptible to hacking, and if the malicious hacker gets a chance to do it, they will. The more publicly exposed or know the system or its user is, the more the hackers will go after it. Recently, hackers got into the "Disney" system, got their hands on a not yet released movie, threatening to release portions of it, unless they are paid a ransom. In another recent incident, hackers stole thousands of passwords from Brittish officials, offering them for sale on the Dark Net. It certainly takes an amount of effort to hack any system, but it seems that a sensitive part of any election is quite 'welcoming' to hackers.

From few minutes to a couple of hours and any voting machine is yours

If you are a skilled hacker, you can have any electronic Voting Machine under control with ease. That is a conclusion that can be drawn from the recent DefCon conference in Las Vegas, specifically devoted to this problem. During a specifically designated "Voting Machine Village", 30 voting machines were given to hackers to see, whether, and how quickly they can take control over them. It took hackers anywhere between few minutes and a couple of hours, 90 minutes on the average, to hack every single electronic machine that was made available to them! And all these machines are used in all types of elections throughout the US. And as "Hacker News" reports, the hackers were also able to take control of an e-poll book where voters sign in and receive their ballots, and this device is used currently in use in dozens of states.

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The ethical hackers gathered at the conference pointed out a series of weaknesses - from out-of-date and insecure software to hardware problems that make it easy to tamper with the machines. As the worst device around, they proclaimed the "WinVote" an outdated voting machine, still used in a number of county elections, which was secured with a password "ABCDE"!

New security measures needed quickly

Eric Hodge from the consulting company CyberScout, present at the conference, points out that, on one hand, proper handling procedures of storing the machines, setting them up properly and keeping an eye on them could go a long way in taking adequate precautions. This is due to the fact that these machines are not being connected to the internet. But, on the other hand, since these machines are bought and used county-to-county across the US, of hackers target a number of key swing vote counties, they can definitely influence the results of elections. And as Jake Braun, a cyber security expert at the University of Chicago says, "Cyber interference with the voting system would undermine democracy and threaten national security". Obviously, more stringent security measures with the electronic voting devices are needed.