Google has been stepping up its efforts to protect political campaigns against phishing attacks — one of the most pressing threats facing candidates as hackers continue to target them via email. U.S. political campaigns overwhelmingly use Google as their email provider, according to data collected by anti-phishing start-up Area1 Security. Of the 1,460 candidates the company is tracking who are running for the Senate, House of Representatives or governor, 65 percent use Google as their email provider. The 2018 midterms will be the first test of the security measures Google and other tech companies have adopted since Russian hackers successfully spear phished Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Hackers stole more than 50,000 of his emails after a click on a “change password” button on an email disguised as a security alert from Google.
“2016 was a watershed moment for a lot of people in the technical security space,” Guemmy Kim, Google’s product manager for account security, tells me.
While so much of the discussion in Washington has focused on securing the midterms, November 6 is only the beginning. The stakes will only rise as more high-profile candidates take on President Trump — especially given that intelligence agencies have concluded Russia sought to influence the last presidential election in his favor. Campaigns are feeling the pressure to be more secure. And as campaigns start setting up their infrastructure for 2020, technology companies must be prepared to meet their needs.