SEATTLE -- A Duvall teen has found himself in the national spotlight after he says he was able to hack a state election system. Even more concerning, the 17-year-old says it took him just 10 minutes, a simple internet search and two lines of code to do it.
River O'Connor along with dozens of other teens attended the DEF CON hacking event earlier this month in Las Vegas where they were asked to hack replicate election websites in 13 swing states as part of an experiment.
River told Politico, "I was able to shut down the website that would tally the votes, bringing the election to a screeching halt."
Adding, "Just like that, tens of thousands of votes vanished into thin air, throwing an entire election."
Almost all of the 40 teen and child hackers at the event were able to gain access to the websites and exploit them.
River has attended the hacking event for the last five years, but still calls himself a "not even a very good hacker."
"While I have a good conceptual understanding of how cyberspace and the internet work, I’ve taken only a single Python programming class in middle school," he told Politico.
The experiment, now in its second year, is supposed to demonstrate vulnerabilities in America’s vast election infrastructure. And that did work. Election officials are now aware of how River and the other hackers, ages 6 to 17 years old, got into the election website.
But River says it if was that easy for him to do it, imagine how easy it would be for pro hackers with the time, resources and backing of an enemy government to do it.
"Washington state has one of the most secure systems out of the 50 states, however, that is not the case for all of them. Some of the states have significantly weaker election infrastructure than others," River said.