11-year-old hacks replica of Florida’s election system in 10 minutes

The results come as the Trump administration has warned Russia is working to underline US election security ahead of the 2018 midterm elections

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 15 October 2018 15:02 BST
A voter casts their vote during an American primary election
A voter casts their vote during an American primary election

An 11-year-old has been able to hack into a replica of Florida’s election system in 10 minutes during a test ahead of upcoming US midterm elections this November.

The boy was the fastest of 35 children who were able to hack into replicas of the websites of six swing states during the three-day Def Con security convention, raising concern about the security of America’s election systems just months before the midterms.

The results of those efforts to test the strength of US election infrastructure will be passed onto the states, and the National Association of Secretaries of State — the officials responsible for tallying and confirming vote totals — said that they welcome the efforts.

But, that group also said the actual systems used by states would have additional protections.

“It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilise unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols,” the association said.

The results highlight potential security lapses amid heightened concern that American voter rolls will be tampered with in the upcoming midterm elections, and after President Donald Trump’s national security team warned that Russia had launched “pervasive” efforts to interfere in America’s 2018 elections.

The convention indicated that the hackers were able to change party names in the systems, and added as many as 12 billion votes to candidates.

“Candidates names were changed to ‘Bob Da Builder’ and ‘Richard Nixon’s head’,” the convention said in a tweet.

The winning hacker was identified as Emmett Brewer, a boy whose Twitter account says he lives in Austin, Texas.

Americans will hold a national vote on November 6, where every seat in the House of Representatives will be up for a vote, as well as a third of the seats in the Senate.

Reuters contributed to this report

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