It is nearly impossible not to be aware of the cyber activities that are taking place surrounding this year’s U.S. presidential election. From the hacktivists group known an anonymous declaring “total war” on the Republican campaign of Donald Trump back in March of this year, to the recent acquisitions that Russian actors hacks on multiple democratic party and related accounts, it is absolutely clear that presidential elections are prime hacking targets. When Anonymous made their declaration, the Trump campaign responded promptly. They issued a statement forcefully demanding the immediate arrest of those behind responsible. The Secret Service and the FBI both announced an investigation. In fact, multiple published reports have stated that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a message to her colleagues stating that she has received "scores of mostly obscene and sick calls, voicemails and text messages." Pelosi was one of nearly 200 democratic party officials that had her email and cell phone information published on the internet. In fact, Pelosi referred to the cyber event(s) as "an electronic Watergate break-in," and a "sad course of events." While both are true statements, another sad fact is the lack of adequate security that both parties and candidate Trump seems to have at this time.
Some political pundits, campaign specialists, advisors and others have expressed the opinion that the time has come for campaign teams to begin hiring CSOs and CISOs to protect the sensitive assets that have and are being targeted by a wide variety of hackers. The role that cyber plays in modern political campaigns has increased to levels never seen before. It is not like this is the first U.S. election to experience cyber issues, and when you look internationally, the use of cyberattacks and influence techniques is even more prominent. One has to wonder why these campaigns did not have someone in this position to begin with.
Given the many insane comments that have appeared surrounding recent events, it is clear educating the campaign staff will be a critically important role of any CSO or CISO that gets brought on-board. While designing the initial training will be challenging, keeping all those involved updated on a regular basis will be much more demanding. After all, reinforcing the continued evolution threats, particularly phishing attacks including malicious links about recent poll results, hot issues, survey results and the constant "he said-she said" that we saw in this campaign provide continuous refresh of topic specific targeting information for cyber attackers.
Looking for a unique challenging assignment? Then this one is for you! Apply to your party of choice! You will be going up against novices as well as some of the best of the best when it comes to cyberattacks, hacktivism and a whole host of other hostile actions and activities. It is unclear if any CSO or CISO for these campaigns will need to have or be able to obtain a security clearance. My opinion is that a security clearance should be a requirement! One thing is certain: the unique characteristics of this role and the heightened level of cyber security required in this particular situation will make the CSO or CISO role extremely challenging for anyone! So update your resumes and apply today!
Nearly a year ago concerns of the likely cybersecurity on the 2016 presidential election were voiced. With all that has taken place, it looks like cyberattacks on the election is a sure bet. What I find most curious is that given all that has taken place with both political parties, I would think the topic of cyberattacks would be much more prominent in the debates and interviews. That has really not been the case. I wonder if they are waiting to hire a CSO or CISO to advise them on this matter?