Each of the more than 100 machines the researchers looked at were vulnerable to at least some kind of attack, said Georgetown professor Matt Blaze, one of the Def Con Voting Village’s organizers.
The report will be of particular concern to lawmakers going into next year’s Presidential election.
“I’m going to get this in the hands in every member of the US Senate,” said Oregon senator Ron Wyden, the most outspoken election security advocate in the Senate, as he introduced the Def Con Voting Village report.
As in previous years, the Voting Village collected versions of voting equipment used around the country, much of it ordered from eBay, and invited all of the more than 35,000 attendees of the Def Con hacker conference, which took place in Las Vegas in August, to see what kind of holes they could find.
Some of machines were found to be vulnerable to remote attack and one electronic pollbook had a hidden ethernet cable to connect it to the internet.
The issue is less that skilled hackers can break into election equipment, Blaze told CNN, and more that elections systems as a whole need to both minimize risk and double-check election results with paper ballots after every election.
“We know these machines are vulnerable, and what’s important is we use machines like those that produce paper ballots that can tolerate the vulnerabilities rather than fail completely because of them. And that means paper ballots and risk-limiting audits,” he said.
But upgrades cost money, and even with federal funding, it’s impossible to make machines that can be expected to withstand a full-fledged nation-state attack, said Dominion spokesperson Kay Stimson.
“There are no realistic cost or resource comparisons between securing election systems against nation-state threats, versus securing national defense systems against nation-state threats,” Stimson told CNN.
But experts have questioned whether that’s enough money to get the US to an acceptable level of election security.
“Yes, $250 million is a great step forward, but what’s next?” asked Chris Krebs, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“News that the Senate is planning to support money for election security is an important step in the right direction after months of back-and-forth,” Larry Norden, director of Brennan Center’s election reform program, told CNN. “But the fight to secure the nation’s election infrastructure is far from over.”