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 WarrenTrump says government to review 5M Kodak loan deal Michelle Obama supporters urge Biden to pick former first lady as running mate On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again MORE (Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerUSAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA rule extends life of toxic coal ash ponds | Flint class action suit against Mich. officials can proceed, court rules | Senate Democrats introduce environmental justice bill Senate Democrats introduce environmental justice bill 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 YangIs this the end of the 'college experience'? Biden campaign to take over 'Supernatural' star's Instagram for interview Hillicon Valley: Justice Department announces superseding indictment against WikiLeaks' Assange | Facebook ad boycott gains momentum | FBI sees spike in coronavirus-related cyber threats | Boston city government bans facial recognition technology MORE ranking last. 

Both Warren and Booker received an A-, while Yang scored a D+. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharLobbying world Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman House committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns MORE (D-Minn.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Biden offers well wishes to Lebanon after deadly explosion MORE also scored badly, with Klobuchar receiving a C, and Biden a C-. 

Other top scorers included Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package MORE (I-Vt.), with a B+, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary 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 Devi HarrisMichelle Obama supporters urge Biden to pick former first lady as running mate Michelle Obama wishes Barack a happy birthday: 'My favorite guy' Harris endorses Democrat in tight California House race MORE (D-Calif.), who received a B-; and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE (R) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegFormer Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan dies How Republicans can embrace environmentalism and win In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over 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.”