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What happens if America’s voting machines get hacked?

Plus: What are the best ways to protect your personal accounts from hackers?

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

The recent hacking attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, allegedly commissioned by the Russian government, have made cyber security a hot-button issue once again. And according to security blogger Bruce Schneier, America’s voting machines may be next.

On the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, The Verge reporter Russell Brandom joined Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode to explain how these hacks occurred and what happens if Schneier’s nightmare scenario comes true.

"You’re not hacking Bank of America, where someone has spent a lot of money to make sure that no one can get into that," Brandom said. "I’m worried about voting machines just not working. I don’t know if it’s extremely likely, but the results would be so catastrophic to the body politic."

The scary problem, Brandom said, is that we might not be able to say with 100 percent confidence that a hack had really happened.

On the new podcast, the trio also answered your questions about the much lower-profile kind of "hacking," a term that gets used generally to include criminals tricking people into handing over access to their social or email accounts. Brandom offered his recommendations for keeping your personal accounts safe — rule No. 1, use two-factor authentication — and said he almost never uses open Wi-Fi networks like the ones you might see at cafés or airports.

"You don’t know what you’re connecting to," he said. "Someone else could have a fake Wi-Fi network that has the same name, and they’re sitting next to you. You think you’re connecting to the coffee shop, but really you’re connected to Joe Cybercriminal."

Thank you to everyone who sent in their questions about hacking. Still have questions we didn’t get to? Or have another tech topic on your mind? You can tweet any questions, comments and complaints to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed. You can also email your questions to, in case Twitter isn’t your thing.

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