At this year’s DEFCON, a group of 50 children aged 8 to 16 participated in a hack of 13 imitation election websites. One 11-year-old boy changed the voting results in 10 minutes. A 11 year-old-girl was also able to change the voting results in 30 minutes. Overall, more than 30 of the 50 children were able to hack the websites in some form.
The so-called “DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village” allowed kids the chance to manipulate vote tallies, party names, candidate names and vote count totals. The 11-year-old girl was able to triple the number of votes found on the website in under 15 minutes.
The National Association of Secretaries of State said in a statement that it is “ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections.” But the organization expressed skepticism over the hackers’ abilities to access the actual state websites. “It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols,” it read. “While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.”