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11-year-old hacks, changes election results on replica Florida state website

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — An 11-year-old boy was able to hack into a site that imitated the Florida state election website, and he did it in less than 10 minutes.

The extraordinary hacker, Emmett Brewer, was able to change voting results at DEFCON26, an annual hacking convention.

Children attempted to hack 13 imitation websites that have links to voting in presidential battleground states, according to PBS.

Part of the challenge the pre-teen participated in encouraged kids to manipulate party names, candidate names and vote counts.

An unidentified 11-year-old girl managed to make changes to the same Florida replica website in about 15 minutes, tripling the number of votes found there, said Nico Sell, co-founder of a nonprofit that teaches children how to hack.

More than 30 children were able to hack other state replica states in less than 30 minutes, Sell said.

The National Association of Secretaries of State were hesitant to admit defeat, saying they were skeptical that hackers could access the real state websites.

The statement also said it is “ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections.”

The statement went on to address concerns that websites might be vulnerable but “the sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.”

Sell pushed back, saying the sites are “very accurate replicas of all of the sites” and “these things should not be easy enough for an 8-year-old kid to hack within 30 minutes, it’s negligent for us as a society.”

A professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania echoed the startling apparent ease of access to the sites, noting how fast the kids were able to hack and manipulate the sites.

“It’s not surprising that these precocious, bright kids would be able to do it because the websites that are on the internet are vulnerable, we know they are vulnerable. What was interesting is just how utterly quickly they were able to do it,” he said.

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