Analysis: Warren and Booker most cyber-aware 2020 candidates

Analysis: Warren and Booker most cyber-aware 2020 candidates
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Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (Mass.) and Cory BookerCory BookerBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires Dangerously fast slaughter speeds are putting animals, people at greater risk during COVID-19 crisis MORE (N.J.) are the 2020 presidential candidates with the highest level of cybersecurity awareness, according to an industry report released on Monday, with former tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Andrew Yang: Democrats need to adopt message that government is 'working for them' MORE ranking last. 

Both Warren and Booker received an A-, while Yang scored a D+. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE also scored badly, with Klobuchar receiving a C, and Biden a C-. 

Other top scorers included Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed MORE (I-Vt.), with a B+, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE, who received a B grade. 


The findings come from a “report card” compiled by website security group SiteLock on 12 of the top 2020 presidential candidates. SiteLock evaluated cyber awareness based on how integrated cybersecurity was in a candidate’s platform, how often the candidate discussed it, and the actions taken in relation to cybersecurity by the candidate.

Some of the factors SiteLock used to make these evaluations were whether a candidate had ever been involved in a data breach, whether campaign email addresses had been found on the dark web, if the candidate had publicly supported legislation on cybersecurity issues and whether the candidate had a published privacy policy on their campaign website. 

SiteLock also scanned candidate websites to ascertain how at-risk they were to cyberattacks, finding that 58 percent of the candidates’ sites use out-of-date software.

“Technically, anything short of perfect cybersecurity awareness practices should be viewed as a security flaw because it only takes a single vulnerability to fall victim to a bad actor,” SiteLock wrote in a blog post announcing the report card findings. “The fact that not one candidate can be credited with a perfect score proves that cybersecurity awareness is an overlooked issue.”

SiteLock noted that Warren “rose to the top” of the awareness ranking in large part due to her “advocacy for stronger cybersecurity practices,” particularly in regards to securing elections. 

Warren described U.S. elections in a blog post for Medium in June as “less secure than your Amazon account,” and laid out a plan for overhauling the U.S. voting system in order to heighten security. 

Booker also included strengthening election security as part of his national security platform, vowing to “protect our democracy from foreign interference” if elected. Almost all of the other candidates scored by SiteLock have either prioritized or discussed the need to shore up election security.

SiteLock wrote that Trump would have received a higher grade had Trump International Hotels not been involved in three data breaches between 2016 and 2017 and if cybersecurity was part of his 2020 platform. Trump’s reelection website does list steps taken by the Trump administration to combat cyber threats, including providing cybersecurity assistance to states during elections.


The remaining candidates scored by SiteLock included former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), both of whom received a B; Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWho will replace Harris in Senate? 'Rising' discusses Wisconsin formally declares Biden won election following recount Moderate Democrats: Everyone's older siblings MORE (D-Calif.), who received a B-; and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldRalph Gants, chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, dies at 65 The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden visits Kenosha | Trump's double-voting suggestion draws fire | Facebook clamps down on election ads Biden picks up endorsements from nearly 100 Republicans MORE (R) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE, both of whom received a C+. 

SiteLock wrote that “none of the candidates we audited have mastered a fully secure online presence alongside a strong cybersecurity platform as a candidate, though a few came close.”

The company noted that Harris’s score had been boosted due to her support of cybersecurity legislation while serving in the Senate and as the California attorney general. 

Harris’s campaign was also the only one of those scored to use a “CAPTCHA” on an email form, which cuts down on threats from bot accounts by requiring the sender to verify they are human by checking a box and typing out text. 

SiteLock wrote that it notified each campaign of its findings prior to the report card’s release and said that while it received “minimal” feedback, some unnamed campaigns expressed the belief that not having CAPTCHA sign up forms did not present a major cybersecurity risk.

SiteLock noted that while a candidate scoring low on cybersecurity awareness does not mean their campaign is “doomed” on the issue, it is something that the American public is increasingly zeroing in on.

“As our world becomes more connected, the need for a leader who will champion the issue only becomes more urgent,” SiteLock wrote. “Keep a close eye on your 2020 candidates to see how they rise to the challenge.”