It happened in Las Vegas, but the weaknesses in U.S. voting equipment uncovered during a summer hackathon are too important to stay there, experts say. They’re a matter of national security.
A new report breaks down the lessons learned at the DEF CON 25 hacking conference, which amounted to a concentrated attack—orchestrated in the name of public safety—on the programming and machinery used in U.S. elections.
“The results were sobering,” according to a copy of the report provided by the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank. “By the end of the conference, every piece of equipment in the Voting Village was effectively breached in some manner. Participants with little prior knowledge and only limited tools and resources were quite capable of undermining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of these systems.”
One of the authors of the report, Joseph Hall of the Center for Democracy & Technology, tweeted a warning against overinterpreting the scope of the threat, if not its urgency.
Responding to one published claim that the Russians could remotely take over the entire U.S. election system, Hall, the center’s chief technologist, decried the “breathless hysteria” of the coverage and remarked, “I wrote a lot of the dang thing, and it doesn’t make a claim like that.”
In an email exchange with Newsweek, Hall called the idea of a systemwide Russian takeover of a U.S. election “crazy.”