Boy, 11, hacks into replica US vote site in 10 mins

Nevada: An 11-year-old boy managed to hack into a replica of Florida’s election results website in 10 minutes and change names and tallies during a hackers convention, organisers said, stoking concerns about security ahead of nationwide votes.

The boy was the quickest of 35 children, ages 6 to 17, who all eventually hacked into copies of the websites of six swing states during the three-day ‘Def Con’ security convention, the organiser said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The event was meant to test the strength of US election infrastructure and details of the vulnerabilities would be passed onto the states ahead of the November polls.

The National Association of Secretaries of State – who are responsible for tallying votes – said it welcomed the convention’s efforts. But it said the actual systems used by states would have additional protections.

The convention linked to what it said was the Twitter account of the winning boy – named there as Emmett Brewer from Austin, Texas. A screenshot posted on the account showed he had managed to change the name of the winning candidate on the replica Florida website to his own and gave himself billions of votes, reports showed.

The hacking demonstration

“It would be extremely difficult to replicate the systems since many states utilise unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols. The hacking demonstration came as concerns swirl about election system vulnerabilities before mid-term state and federal elections. Candidate names were changed to ‘Bob Da Builder’ and ‘Richard Nixon’s head’.” -Organiser

Changed names, added 12 billion votes

  • Participants at the convention changed party names and added as many as 12 billion votes to candidates.
  • The convention’s ‘Voting Village’ also aimed to expose security issues in other systems such as digital poll books and memory-card readers.

(With inputs from agencies)