The Challenge of Securing Campaigns

The Challenge of Securing Campaigns

The NY Times published an article the morning of the Iowa Caucuses claiming that it would be "the first test case for 2020 election security." It talked about potential hacking of voting machinery, which remains a concern, even if it did not cause the issues seen in Iowa.

But tucked in the middle of the article were a few paragraphs that define the challenge for campaign security in 2020.

Securing the campaigns themselves is a trickier proposition. The risks they face are varied: They have to protect their networks from hackers who could try to steal money; shut down systems at a key moment, like right before a debate or an election; or steal sensitive information, similar to the way that Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman, John Podesta, was successfully baited into turning over his email credentials.

Like much in cybersecurity, these problems can be at least partly solved by throwing money at them, and campaigns are spending more this year on security than they have in the past, according to experts and veteran staff members. But they can afford to spend only so much. Campaigns are, in essence, start-ups that face the prospect of dying every day. A dollar spent to guard against the possibility of an attack is not spent on fund-raising, advertising or turning out voters to win an election that is going to take place no matter what happens.

The same forces shape the culture of campaigns. They are mostly staffed by young people, and winning is the sole focus. Creating a culture that values security — a difficult proposition in the most established institutions — is particularly challenging in an organization that is by its very nature temporary.

This confluence of factors led us to start Foresight2020. Campaigns are both specifically targeted and uniquely vulnerable. There is a lot of very good advice out there, but little of it is specifically designed with campaigns in mind, and almost none of it does the work to teach candidates and staff the why behind the checklists of rules.

Foresight2020 provides training that will teach candidates and staff both what to do and why they should do it, all tailored to the specific challenging environment they face.

Join us!