Washington: Electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the US are still vulnerable to hacking as hackers have found new ways, or replicate previously published methods, to compromise those with ease, a new report has said.
Based on the findings of the white-hat hacker “DEF CON Voting Village”, the report mentioned vulnerabilities in voting machines still in use across the country.
Ethical hackers were able to break into 100 EVMs, “every one of the devices in the room in ways that could alter stored vote tallies, change ballots displayed to voters, or alter the internal software that controls the machines”, the report mentioned.
According to a report in The Hill on Thursday, this year’s event allowed hackers to test voting equipment, including e-poll books, optical scan paper voting devices and direct recording electronic voting machines a” all certified for use in at least one US voting jurisdiction.
Equipment that was tested included those made by leading voting machines companies Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and Dominion Systems.
“The clear conclusion of the Voting Village in 2019 is that independent security experts and hackers are stepping into the breach — providing expertise, answers, and solutions to election administrators, policymakers, and ordinary citizens where few others can,” said the report.
A spokesperson for ES&S was quoted as saying that the firm “works with federal officials and state and local jurisdictions to ensure risks are minimized and elections continue to be secure”.
“With rapid deployment of new IT technology into the election infrastructure, election offices are especially exposed to remote attack (including by hostile state actors),” the authors of the report said.
“Unfortunately, very few election offices have the resources to effectively counter this increasingly serious type of threat”.
A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian interference efforts from 2016 presidential election found that “as of the end of 2018, the Russian cyber actors had successfully penetrated Illinois’s voter registration database, viewed multiple database tables, and accessed up to 200,000 voter registration records”.
A report by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller also said that Russian intelligence officers “targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations”.