Voting structures in the United States are so woefully hackable, even an 8-year-old could do it.
At least, that’s the vanity of a competition cosponsored by the Democratic National Committee at next week’s Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas. The tournament will be incorporated in children, ages 8 to 16, who will be tasked with probing replication of the websites that secretaries of state in different regions of the country use to publish election results. They’ll vie for $2,500 in prize money, $500 of which will come from the DNC and be awarded to the child who comes up with the best defensive policy for moods around the country.
The DNC’s premier technology officer, Raffi Krikorian, says he was inspired to team up with Def Con after scoping out an episode at last year’s conference called Voting Village, where attendees–grown-ups this time–got to hacker into numerous models of voting machines and find flaws. “We wanted to figure out how we could use this to our advantage, ” Krikorian tells WIRED. “Let’s get those assignments back to secretaries of state.”
The Voting Village, which caters to knew hackers, will continue this year. But the organizers behind the affair wanted to expand their work to cover one of the most glaringly obvious punctures in poll insurance: commonwealth websites that post election results. International elections have already proven how these types of hacks can go horribly bad. In 2014, Russian intruders penetrated the website of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission and changed their results, prompting Russian media to run with the false-hearted news.