The nation’s top voting-machine manufacturer will open up its products for hackers to test ahead of the 2020 election, ending their years-long battle against the practice.
Election Systems & Software LLC, which manufactures more elections equipment than any other company in the U.S., has argued testing security by third-party hackers is unnecessary and gives hackers opportunities to make phony headlines, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nevertheless, ES&S is expected to announced that it will lend machines to security researchers in the three months remaining before the November election, less than a week after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged them to do so.
ES&S Chief Information Security Officer Chris Wlaschin is expected to announce that the company will be bringing their equipment to the Black Hat hacking conference taking place virtually between September 29 and October 2.
Hackers last took a crack at official voting equipment in August of 2019 at the Def Con hacking conference. While companies at the time criticized the conference for making voting equipment available in such a public setting, a number of hackers said they identified weaknesses in the equipment.
In advance of the @VotingVillageDC tomorrow, ES&S sent a message to customers today with their comments about the hacking village and the security of their machines. I’ve pasted their memo below, with some annotation from me. pic.twitter.com/6eQUYuuGJA
— Kim Zetter (@KimZetter) August 10, 2018
The companies responded that the weaknesses identified weren’t exploitable in a real-world scenario outside of a hacking conference. Some politicians have been critical of that response, however. (RELATED: As Pence Campaigns In Pennsylvania For The Third Time In Two Months, Another Poll Shows Trump Down In The State)
“Rather than welcoming the contributions of these researchers with open arms, ES&S and companies like it have repeatedly attempted to demonize cybersecurity researchers and discredit their work,” Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden told WSJ.
President Donald Trump has been heavily focused on the integrity of the November election in recent weeks, though his emphasis has been on mail-in ballots.
“I don’t want to see a crooked election,” Trump told Axios in an interview released Monday. “This election will be the most rigged election in history, if [universal mail-in voting] happens.”
Trump went so far as to float the idea of delaying the election in a tweet last week, citing the same potential issues of mail-in voting. He later walked back that statement, however, arguing he didn’t want a date change but did fear results could be severely delayed.
“I don’t wanna delay. I wanna have the election, but I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything,” Trump said. “That’s what’s going to happen…that’s common sense.”
“Do I want a date change? No,” he added.