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Kill Chain: The Cyber War On America's Elections

January 3, 2023

From voter registration to counting ballots, data security expert Harri Hursti examines how hackers can influence and disrupt the U.S. election system.

If you don’t want to know how easy it is for a canny individual, or a malicious state actor, to hack into the electronic voting technology used in the U.S., don’t watch Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections. This unnervingly persuasive documentary exposes cracks in the system that could easily allow hackers to affect voting results. The filmmakers’ sources also include actual hackers, among them an individual who breached Alaska’s voting system in 2016 just to see if he could. Although he explains in an on-camera interview that he declined to alter any data, he says he could have sold his “backdoor” access for millions.

One of the central figures of Kill Chain is election-security expert Harri Hursti, who explains, with clarity, just how vulnerable American voting systems are. Although voting machines are supposed to be kept in secure facilities, Hursti found a widely used model for sale, on eBay. The vendor had hundreds of them, and he was selling them for around $79 each. Hursti bought a few, using them to explain how easily their workings could be examined and breached. He also brought a selection of voting machines to Def Con, a three-day conference for hackers, and invited attendees to go at them; one expert quickly figured out how to shut down a machine remotely from a laptop.

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