11-year-old hacks mock Florida voting website; wants to use hacking to help people

Published: Aug. 19, 2018 at 8:21 AM CDT
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When you use a computer or smartphone, cyber security may not be the first thing on your mind. But make one mistake and a hacker can have a field day with your information.

A Central Texas computer expert told KVUE that hacking doesn't always have to be bad. In fact, he's using it to learn how to keep information safe.

The computer expert just so happens to be 11 years old. Austin-native Emmett Brewer is using techniques, like a SQL Injection vulnerability or a cross-site request forgery vulnerability, to hack different websites. Brewer said he only uses his skills against websites that allow him to test out his skills.

But at DEFCON, a hacking conference held in Las Vegas, Brewer took a hack at a mock-up of something bigger.

"The one I did was the Florida secretary of state website," said Brewer. "I sort of studied up on what it would be like but I had no idea until it actually started."

The 11-year-old was able to give himself 239 billion votes in approximately five minutes. Brewer says hacking is fun to do, and while he does have other hobbies, this is one of his favorites.

For Brewer, it's fun to find vulnerabilities.

"I'm just trying to help the world," he said.

As Brewer heads into the sixth grade, he hopes to keep hacking and maybe one day get into cyber security.