Tag: eBay

03
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

‘Why I bought a voting machine on eBay’

“Earlier this year, I attended a conference and was shocked to find that you could actually buy voting machines on eBay. So I bought one, two months ago, and have been able to open it up and look at the chips.”

Beatrice Atobatele is trying to hack one of the most commonly used voting machines in the US, to look for security vulnerabilities, but not with any criminal intentions.

Beatrice is actually one of more than 200 people who have signed up to a volunteer group of security experts and hackers called the Election Cyber Surge.

Beatrice Atobatele taking apart her voting machine to test it
Beatrice Atobatele taking apart her voting machine to test it

And by understanding how this machine works, she hopes she can ensure any vulnerabilities are fixed.

“I’ve bypassed the authentication itself,” she says.

“I’m still learning and trying to find any new vulnerabilities that might not be known about yet.”

Human error

The problem with US elections, Beatrice and others say, is how disjointed they are.

Most estimates suggest there are about 8,000 separate election jurisdictions.

The equipment and voting methods vary dramatically.

And every step of the process is vulnerable to hackers and human error.

Soccer-obsessed daughters

In the polling booth, there are many different systems, from direct-recording electronic voting machines to ballot-marking devices and paper-based systems.

And the more digitised and connected a system is, the higher the risk of some sort of cyber-interference.

Like all the volunteers, Beatrice’s research is conducted outside of her day job.

And as a keen footballer, and mother to two soccer-obsessed daughters in New York City, she has to fit the volunteering around a busy schedule.

Beatrice Atobatele fears hackers could disrupt the voting process
Beatrice Atobatele fears hackers could disrupt the voting process

She didn’t plan to get into cyber-security at all.

But 17 years ago, she lost more than $1,000 (£775) after hackers