Argonne tries to hack the vote

We know the gents and ladies at Argonne are pretty smart cookies, but it turns out it doesn’t take a genius to hack electronic voting machines. Researchers on Argonne’s Vulnerability Assessment Team figured out how easy it would be to tamper with the Sequoia AVC Voting Machine, which will be used by 9 million Americans today.

The answer: Extremely easy and extremely cheap.

All someone wanting to commit voter fraud would need is an Allen wrench and a $10 to $26 microprocessor from Radio Shack. The microprocessor gets inserted in the machine, figures out which digital communications code for one candidate or the other, then intercepts your communication to the machine and changes it. If you’re already voting for the person the vote-tamperer wants you to vote for, then your communication goes through the microprocessor unchanged.

Why is electronic voter fraud so easy? According to Popular Science, digital voting machines aren’t encrypted; there’s no line of defense between your vote and whoever – or whatever – is seeking to change it.

The Vulnerability Assessment Team outlines exactly how it’s done:

So what can stop these kind of attacks? Vulnerability Assessment Team lead Roger Johnston says a little more training could go a long way. Seals on the machines always need to be checked, and there are some telltale signs that a machine has been implanted with this kind of machinery. With a bit more knowledge, security officials could stop even a sophisticated attack.

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