PRESS RELEASE: First-Ever DEFCON "Voting Machine Hacker Village" Highlights Vulnerabilities in U.S. Voting Systems

Cambridge Global participates in event to bring together critical stakeholders to elevate cyber threats, identify solutions to safeguard our elections

Las Vegas, NV – In light of recent headlines concerning Russian attempts to “hack” and interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, DEFCON – one of the world's largest and best-known hacker conventions – debuted an interactive "Voting Machine Hacker Village" today a its annual gathering in Las Vegas. The first of its kind in the conference's 25 year history, the Voting Village provided a national stage for hackers, voting experts, government officials and others to raise the alarm on cyber vulnerabilities and threats related to U.S. voting machines, networks, and voter file databases currently in use around the nation.

Cambridge Global Advisors (CGA) – a strategic advisory services firm with deep expertise in cyber and homeland security policy at the global, national, state and local level – provided support to the Voting Village by way of concept development, media outreach, and stakeholder engagement. CGA also contributed to the day-long speaking program, with Jake Braun, CEO of CGA emceeing speeches and panels featuring subject matter experts from a variety of public and private sector organizations such as Verified Voting, the Center for Internet Security, National Governors Association, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  

“Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible. Thanks to the contributions of the hacker community today, we've uncovered even more about exactly how,” said Jake Braun, who originally proposed the idea of the Voting Village to conference founder Jeff Moss earlier this year. “The scary thing is we also know that our foreign adversaries – including Russia, North Korea, Iran – possess the capabilities to hack them too, in the process undermining principles of democracy and threatening our national security.”

Douglas Lute, CGA principal and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, also spoke at the conference on Friday, noting the importance of bringing the national security community to the table. “Elections have always been the concern and constitutional responsibility of state and local officials. But when Russia decided to interlope in 2016, it upped the ante. This is now a grave national security concern that isn't going away,” said Lute via Skype. “In the words of former FBI Director James Comey, ‘They're coming after America...they will be back.’”

The Voting Village featured more than 30 pieces of equipment for hackers to try their hand at, along with a cyber training range that simulated an board of elections office network and voter registration database.  Within the first 90 minutes, hackers successfully hacked several pieces of equipment, including a machine and pollbook.  The village is expected to be a fixture for DEFCON for at least the next three years, with more equipment, software and other hacking demonstrations to be added in the future.

Voting Village organizers also said that DEFCON provided an initial forum to convene various stakeholders that will be critical to forwarding solutions as a next step. Post-DEFCON, Cambridge Global and others will work to align allies for a national advocacy campaign to implement election security measures in all fifty states. Details and a campaign launch date are expected in the coming weeks.

“The Voting Hacking Village was just the start. This is one conversation that needs to leave Vegas,” said Braun. “There are ways to secure our democracy, but we need an organized advocacy campaign. We need to take these lessons back to DC, to state capitals, and to local election boards around the country to invoke change.”

About CGA

Cambridge Global Advisors (CGA) is a strategic advisory services firm with deep expertise and experience at the global, national, state and local level.  Our mission is to assist our clients in the management, development, and implementation of their national security programs, practices, and policies, with a special interest in homeland and cyber security.

CGA’s senior leadership has been working on cybersecurity policy for some of the largest end users for governments, NGOs, and corporations for a combined 100+ years of experience.  Through client work and numerous positions on advisory boards, the team has served as cyber consults for a host of entities from the President of the United States to local governments such as Cook County, Illinois. Learn more at: www.cambridgeglobal.com

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