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 ClintonTrump's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico 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 McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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 RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration 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.”