Secretaries of State Blast Election Hacking Exercise

The National Association of Secretaries of State criticized a series of voting machine hacking events Thursday at DEFCON 26 in Las Vegas for being “unrealistic.”

DEFCON’s Voting Machine Hacking Village invited participants to test more than 30 such electronic devices—most of which organizers said remain in use in some U.S. states—and defend or hack a mock board of elections office and its voter registration databases during an interactive training.

Cybersecurity experts, state and local election administrators including California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and even a Department of Homeland Security official, will take part in panel discussions at the hacking conference all day Friday.

“Our main concern with the approach taken by DEFCON is that it utilizes a pseudo environment which in no way replicates state election systems, networks or physical security,” NASS said in a statement. “Providing con­ference attendees with unlimited physical access to voting machines, most of which are no longer in use, does not replicate accurate physical and cyber protections established by state and local governments before and on Election Day.”

Replicating election systems is “extremely difficult” because many states use unique networks and custom-built databases, the statement continued. (Read more…)