Melting in South Florida’s humidity, a young congressional campaign manager let his nerves show. Sitting across from a pair of visitors on a café patio, he widened his eyes when they asked if there were any tool he wished he had to help protect his campaign from cyber attacks. “I have no idea! I don’t even know what that would be, to be honest.” Weeks away from Election Day, the operative’s fear is increasingly common — practically unavoidable in 2018, in fact. Midterm campaigns are entering the fall more anxious than ever about looming threats of email phishing, text hacking, and countless other ominous possibilities that could derail their hopes with the touch of a Muscovite button. And it’s becoming increasingly clear to many that they may just not be ready for what’s coming — or what’s already occurred.
The campaign manager leaned forward when asked to consider whether he would even know if his staff had been successfully phished. No idea, he admitted. He’d spoken with a security consultant about best practices months earlier, and made his employees communicate with an encrypted app. But he had little time to think about cybersecurity, and no one from his national party had yet given him much advice. “There’s no [plan],” he said. “You know, the plan is, ‘Don’t say stupid shit over emails.’” The pair across from him nodded. They were visitors from Jigsaw — a relatively obscure tech incubator working on digital vulnerabilities, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet. They’d come to Florida to try to help.
Their offer was embraced in South Florida, where 2016 still stings: that summer, a promising Democratic House candidate’s campaign tanked after internal party research on her leaked as part of the broader Russian operation. Yet the fears of politicos in Miami and beyond are only intensifying with recent reports about Russian break-in attempts ahead of 2018’s voting. Just as Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill ramped up for her tough midterm reelection campaign, her Senate computer system faced a phishing attempt from the Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 attacks. New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said her staff also faced phishing attempts, and that a person impersonating a Latvian official tried calling her office to arrange a conversation about Russian sanctions and Ukraine. This summer a Microsoft exec said the corporation had already detected three Russian email hack attempts on 2018 candidates, and the DNC warned candidates not to use Chinese-made ZTE or Huawei phones.
Full Article: Midterm Campaigns Fight to Prevent Cyber Attacks.