Feds allow campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services

Feds allow campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services
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The Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday approved a request from a private company to provide discounted cybersecurity services to political campaigns, saying it did not violate campaign finance rules.

The decision came in response to a request from Area 1 Security, a California-based company, to offer cybersecurity services to federal political candidates and political committees at discounted rates.

The FEC, which has jurisdiction over campaign finance for presidential and congressional elections, decided the arrangement did not violate campaign contribution rules because the company offers similar discounted services to nonpolitical clients as well.

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The decision allows the company to sell anti-phishing services to federal candidates and political committees for as little as $1,337 per year, according to the FEC.

The agency wrote that "doing so would be in the ordinary course of Area 1’s business and on terms and conditions that apply to similarly situated non-political clients."

Area 1 Security offers cybersecurity services to combat phishing attacks, which involve users clicking on malicious web links that can allow malware or other viruses to gain access to a computer system.

Campaigns have been shown to be vulnerable to cyberattacks in recent elections. During the 2016 race, the email account for Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump rally: 'The time has come again' to fight for democracy Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – 'Being righteous and losing sucks' MORE's campaign chairman John Podesta was hacked, with thousands of emails stolen during a spear-phishing attack.

Last year, hackers unsuccessfully tried to breach the computer system of former Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Feds allow campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Mo.) in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Harvard University’s Belfer Center released a “playbook” in 2017 for campaigns to follow to increase cybersecurity, with the campaign managers for now-Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump's no racist — he's an equal opportunity offender Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE’s (R-Utah) 2012 presidential campaign and Clinton’s 2016 campaign among the authors.

The authors wrote in the guide that “unfortunately for campaigns and our country, foreign adversaries may think that harming or helping a particular candidate advances their national interest, whether that means creating chaos and confusion among American voters, or punishing an official who has spoken out against them.”