As presidential hopefuls lay the groundwork for their 2020 campaigns, there’s plenty of speculation about their messages, their strategies and who they will snag to be their campaign managers, pollsters and state directors. One campaign position has received little attention, but it is the most important hire that a candidate can make: chief information security officer. This official is responsible for securing the campaign’s email accounts, confidential files and computer systems from hacking.
During the 2016 campaign, Russia hacked the headquarters of both major political parties and the chairman of a presidential campaign. “Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including targets associated with both major U.S. political parties,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence wrote in a 2017 report.
Some campaigns and political parties were woefully unprepared for the digital onslaught from Russian hackers. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, fell victim to a relatively unsophisticated phishing scam. Podesta clicked on a link in an email, providing hackers with access to his poorly secured personal Gmail account from which he conducted campaign business.