How hackers tap into tech's vulnerabilities from cars to voting machines

At the annual DEF CON event in Vegas, hackers showcased their skills for breaking into, and defending, electronic devices and systems.
8:12 | 09/22/17

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Transcript for How hackers tap into tech's vulnerabilities from cars to voting machines
Massive security breach -- Hackers targeting credit-monitoring company equifax -- Reporter: Hackers want your financial information. Criminals can access it, can buy it, where it's for sale. Hackers came on episodes of several hit shows including "Game of thrones." Reporter: They're hacking our entertainment. We noticed that hack swiftly. Reporter: Hacking our social media. A massive and coordinated hack -- Reporter: Some interfering in elections overseas. The FBI investigating accusations Vladimir Putin and the Russians were trying to sway the election -- Reporter: And right here at home. Ts is the story that continues to dominate the headlines -- Reporter: Threatening arguably the most stable democracy on Earth. Hacking may be the headline of our times. That equifax hack put the personal details of 143 million people, more than half of adult Americans, at risk. Companies like equifax and other banks and financial services companies are stewards of our information. They hold some of our most sensitive data. So a breach like this is a wake-up call. Reporter: Power grids, telecom systems, nuclear plants, transport networks, even life-saving medical devices in hospitals are at risk. These pumps have a firewall that's there, but it's very easy to turn off. And then once the firewall's turned off we're going to connect to the pump and send a command. If this were connected to a patient the it would dump all the drugs into a patient. It's almost as if the pump has a life of its own. Reporter: We've come to Vegas to meet the troops in the trenches fighting ts cyber war. A pair of back-to-back hacker conventions. 60% of our audience that we polled were concerned that there would be an attack on a credit infrastructure in the U.S. The bottom line is that attackers are getting better. Reporter: In Vegas we're warned to protect ourselves before even walking through the door. They told us before we got here to shut off wi-fi and blue tooth. So I've done that. They've said don't use the atms, and as soon as you leave Vegas, change all your passwords. Are there bad guys floating around here? There very well could be. We have no way of telling that. Reporter: Day one is black hat starring the more strait-laced cyber security experts like Steve wily. Attendees at black cat are some of the top security professional Friday around the world. Reporter: Day two, def con for the edgy who sneak out the soft spots for bug bounty awards some companies offer for bragging rights, for prizes. Whoever wins the competition gets that truck. That's a nice truck. I don't know how they're going to get it home, I assume drive it. They've taken a bunch of car parts out of a car and put it up on a board. This is normally inside of a car. This is part of the hacking challenge. The good guys are coming up with the vulnerabilities and telling everyone about them so they can fix them before the bad guys get to them. This is probably going to happen tomorrow -- Reporter: Meet Ari herster, a good guy, security expert from Finland, our guide to the voting machine. Every method we have here has been hacked. Reporter: Right here, today, in under two hours. They're the real deal, bought on Ebay or at government auctions. This was used in the November election? Yes. You're saying it can be hacked? It has been hacked already, ten years ago. I personally was part of the team. Rip it apart, see how it works. Exactly, the joy of discovery. That is operator's manual for that system. Reporter: The FBI claims in 2016, Russia targeted election systems in up to 39 states. No evidence that any votes were actually changed. It's called ibotronic -- Reporter: He says all the machines here were hacked in around 90 minutes. Engineer and figure it out from scratch with no manual, no instruction -- Reporter: The manufacturer of one of the devices tells us, in part, we make security a cornerstone. Our voting systems are subjected to rigorous and thorough test campaigns. The validity of hacking attempts that do not properly recognize the utilization of real-world security practices established by law and regulated by every voting jurisdiction in the nation is problematic." If an unnamed foreign party wanted to hack this machine, what could they actually achieve by hacking this machine? Change the outcome of the election. Reporter: Lawmakers in Virginia just voted to no longer use touch screen only machines. They will use backup paper ballots as well. A direct result of the holes exposed right here in this room. These are actually very useful opportunities for the security community to come together. It's the same people who understand how to break into these systems that are in the best position to defend against the criminals. Unhackable systems don't exist. It's a bedtime story. Reporter: Hackers are finding their way into toasters, refrigerators, et cetera. Who cares? Maybe you have your computer on your network, you put security updates on it. But you bought a refrigerator that's not doing updates so an attacker can get to the refrigerator and then go to the rest of your network. Reporter: Greg Smith is primarily an expert in hacking transportation. Is there a possibility that a rogue nation could hack into a plane or train and take control of that? There's absolutely a threat of that. We find out where the weaknesses are and try and get those fixed before that happens. This is an acu -- Reporter: Today these researchers are trying to find chinks in auto armor before the bad guys. The truck is the prize. Say you have this huge attack surface -- Reporter: The hackers weigh in potentially to all the info in your phone and to record your conversations. There's a microphone in a blue tooth. So if somebody has control of that device, they can turn on the microphone. Or they could control the car, control steering, control fuel. This is part of the hacking challenge. Reporter: All you can do, turn off your car's blue tooth and wi-fi when not in use, reduce your attack surface. All right, we found an empty conference room for our own experiment. If I pop in John's name -- Reporter: John is the social media-savvy millennial producer of this piece. He's filming right now. For example, it's very easy to find his account. You can pull together information. For example, I was able to search through a password breach database and find a university of Connecticut address with his name. The password hash that's in the same database you can crack and convert back into the original password. Reporter: Mike in minutes traced an old e-mail address for John and found the password. Silly John uses a variation on that password. He might as well be naked. Taylor Swift, kylie Jenner, internet CEOs like sandar of Facebook, Facebook's Marc Zuckerberg. People got ahold of passwords and lo and behold it worked on their Facebook, Twitter, whatever. What is John's password? You better have changed that by now. Reporter: Make yourself hack-proof as possible, use different passwords, change them often. Avoid using public wi-fi, it's an easy way into your phone. Would you ever use the public wi-fi in a place like this? Not recommended. Reporter: Enable privacy settings. The less enfoe you put out there to see, the less hackers have to work with. Through Facebook you discovered my sister is called pip. You may send up a fake pip and e-mail me. Yeah, exactly. Reporter: Some things are out of your hands. The fact is we are on own own when it comes to protecting our personal data. When we turn over information to companies, which we have to do in the modern world, we are losing control of that data. Whatever device you have, they'll figure out a way through it. Reporter: Nothing is unhandleable. That's a fairy tale land in which we no longer live. I'm Nick watt for "Nightline" in Las Vegas.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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