Voting stations will need to take extra precautions with the election of 2012 as a national laboratory has shown just how easy it can be to hack into an electronic voting booth.
In fact, Salon
reports that all it really takes is about $10.50 and an 8th grade
science education. The Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National
Laboratory, a lab run through the Department of Energy, was able to
demonstrate three simple “man in the middle attacks” on touchscreen
Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems, like Diebold voting
machines and Sequoia Voting Systems.
Watch the hacking demonstration:
In this hack, the voter still casts their vote and approves it as
correct, but the information is intercepted by the hacker through the
device they installed, which Salon notes didn’t require any special
soldering. In terms of getting inside the machine to place the device,
it’s as easy as “picking the rudimentary lock,” according to Salon.
As the researchers say, voting officials should shift their focus
from just cyber attacks to those that are a bit more straightforward.
Voting machine companies and election officials have long
sought to protect source code and the memory cards that store ballot
programming and election results for each machine as a way to guard
against potential outside manipulation of election results. But critics
like California Secretary of State Debra Bowen have pointed out that
attempts at “security by obscurity” largely ignore the most immediate
threat, which comes from election insiders who have regular access to
the e-voting systems, as well as those who may gain physical access to
machines that were not designed with security safeguards in mind.