by Claire Bernish, The Free Thought Project:
A professor from Princeton University and a graduate student just proved electronic voting machines in the U.S. remain astonishingly vulnerable to hackers — and they did it in under eight minutes.
In fact, Professor Andrew Appel and grad student Alex Halderman took just seven minutes to break into the authentic Sequoia AVC Advantage electronic voting machine Appel purchased for $82 online — one of the oldest models, but still in use Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia, Politico reported.
After Halderman picked the hulking, 250-pound machine’s lock in seven seconds flat, Appel wrested its four ROM chips from a circuit board — an easy feat, considering the chips weren’t soldered in place.
Once freed, Appel could facilely replace the ROM chips with his own version “of modified firmware that could throw off the machine’s results, subtly altering the tally of votes, never to betray a hint to the voter,” Politico’s Ben Wofford explained.
Appel and a team of other so-called cyber-academics have hacked into various models of electronic voting machines in order to prove to the public the equipment is ridiculously bereft of security. Together with Ed Felten, Appel and a group of Princeton students “relentlessly hacked one voting machine after another … reprogramming one popular machine to play Pac-Man; infecting popular models with self-duplicating malware; [and] discovering keys to voting machine locks that could be ordered on eBay.”
Their efforts have gone largely ignored for 15 years.
But now, thanks to the explosion of controversy from revealing documents hacked from the DNC — and as-yet unproven accusations of Russian involvement — Appel and his colleagues’ persistence has finally garnered the attention it deserves.
If primaries were successfully rigged through corporate media collusion and behind-the-scenes coordination between the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, voters will certainly wonder what’s in store when they cast ballots using deeply-vulnerable electronic voting machines.
Perhaps that lack of security prompted the Department of Homeland Security to declare electronic voting machines part of U.S. “critical infrastructure” this week — a designation generally reserved for 16 sectors, including transportation systems, dams, and utilities, among other things — deemed “so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”
Now that attention has been given to the ease with which a number of popular, still-employed voting machines can be compromised, officials and voters alike have expressed grave concerns about the upcoming election.
“This isn’t a crazy hypothetical anymore,” Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice and veteran of the team of Princeton ‘hackers,’ noted. “Once you bring nation states’ cyber activity into the game?” he hinted of potential Russian connections to the DNC hack and possible implications of foreign meddling in the national election. “These machines, they barely work in a friendly environment.”
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