Widely used election machines are vulnerable to cyberattack: report

Widely used election machines are vulnerable to cyberattack: report
© Getty Images

Voting machines used by election officials in more than half of the states in the U.S. contain a flaw that could allow hackers to access systems and change vote totals remotely.

A report created at the DefCon hacker conference detailed a security flaw in an older model of machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software LLC, the nation's leading election equipment seller, that allows hackers to exploit the machines remotely via a networking bug, The Wall Street Journal reports.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Model 650 machines, which company representatives told the Journal it ceased manufacturing in 2008, are used by precincts in more than half of the states across the country.

Other flaws affecting the Model 650 and other machines would require a hacker to gain physical access to voter machines with a device such as a thumb drive in order to alter votes. The 650 series, however, is vulnerable to two flaws that could also allow remote access, the report states.

Oregon Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenIRS audit rate down in fiscal 2018 Oregon man sentenced after threatening to chop off Dem senator's tongue House to vote on retirement bill next week MORE (D) took aim at the company in an interview with the Journal, questioning company officials' commitment to improving election security in the face of the revealed issues.

“It’s like going to a restaurant — if the bathroom’s dirty, you start to wonder what the kitchen looks like,” he told the newspaper.

In an interview with the Journal in August surrounding DefCon, the company's vice president of systems security fought back against the idea that so-called "ethical" hackers at DefCon would be able to provide useful insights about his company's hardware.

“What I’m not in favor of is submitting hardware and software and source code to anonymous people,” Christopher Wlaschin told the Journal.

In a statement to the Journal, the company said it was "dedicated to the security of our nation’s elections since its founding 40 years ago and proactively evolves security practices as threats evolve.”

A top Homeland Security official said earlier this year that hackers from Russia likely attempted to intrude in election systems across more than 20 states during the 2016 election. Russia has denied the claims.