Daily Viral: Happy election day! Here’s how to hack a voting machine
This gives "rock the vote" a whole new meaning
Ahhh election day. It’s a time-honored annual American tradition, a nationalistic holiday of sorts where We The People get to exercise our right to participate in democracy.
Voting is sacred in this country. To many it’s a citizen’s civic duty to get out there and make their voices heard, to put their two cents in and help guide the political trajectory of this country. To many, if you don’t vote, you’re a lazy, ungrateful, un-American lout who isn’t worth the dogshit stuck your shoe.
People have died for your right to vote.
And it’s one that we should all definitely exercise. But, it’s also one that could be a lot more secure. Because, as this video will demonstrate, hacking a voting machine is an extremely easy thing to do.
At @defcon hacking conference and just learned how easy it is to physically gain admin access on a voting machine that is used in 18 states. Requires no tools and takes under 2 minutes. I’m concerned for our upcoming elections. pic.twitter.com/Kl9erBsrtl— Rachel Tobac (@RachelTobac) August 12, 2018
Rachel Tobac is the CEO of SopcialProof Security, a cyber-security awareness company that offers social engineering training, penetration testing and vulnerability assessments for entities like Facebook, PayPal and even the US Airforce. It is a company full of “white hat hackers” like Tobac — hackers who are helping to protect people from digital assault.
Tobac may be a computer hacking expert, but as she clearly demonstrates in this video, you don’t have to be to hack a voting machine. In less than two minutes Tobac is able to gain full admin access to one of these machines, which are used in 18 states, without any tools or equipment except for a ball-point pin. From there it is totally possible for her to alter or otherwise taint the votes recorded by that machine — to hack American election results.
And, often times, it isn’t particularly difficult to get a few moments alone with these machines. It doesn’t have to be in a voting booth. As many have documented, these voting machines are often left unattended at college campuses and at other voting locations, when they aren’t being used. They’re just left in hallways or in classrooms, completely unattended, and completely vulnerable to tampering.
I'm no security expert, but it seems to me that leaving a State voting machine unattended overnight in an easily accessible building is perhaps one of the reasons America's voting system functions so poorly... #democracy pic.twitter.com/G98mza11mb— Control Force (@ctrlforce) November 5, 2018
If that isn’t enough to inspire hope and confidence in the infallibility of our American democracy, you should also know that this hands-on method of hacking a voting machine isn’t the only way to do it. Many of these paperless machines (which are widely used in 18 states) can also be hacked remotely if they are connected to the internet. Which, many of them are — regardless of what local politicians might say.
So how do we know that our votes are being counted correctly? How do we know that these machines aren’t being tampered with, either remotely or directly? How can anyone be sure that their vote actually ends up being counted as you intended?
When there’s no paper ballot, there’s no way to be sure about any of that. When it comes to these paperless machines, there’s no back up or receipt; no way to verify the accuracy of the results they’re churning out. Which can be a dangerous thing when those results are literally defining the political leadership and direction of this country.
Still, even with all this in mind, it’s a good practice to get out there and vote. Just because the system is broken and might not even be working properly isn’t any reason not to participate in it. Right?
And besides, who knows, maybe with a little bit of luck, your vote will actually be counted as you cast it. Maybe, just maybe your voice will be heard. Or maybe, it’ll just get hacked.
Either way, you'll still get one of those sweet "I voted" stickers — and that's what really matters.