Biden campaign hires top cybersecurity officials to defend against threats

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The presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden announced Friday that it had filled the positions of chief information security officer (CISO) and chief technology officer (CTO) in order to address potential cybersecurity threats to the campaign. 

The campaign hired Chris DeRusha to serve as CISO and Jacky Chang as CTO. DeRusha previously served as chief security officer for the state of Michigan, and previously served in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, along with leading Ford Motor Company’s enterprise vulnerability management program. 

Chang is taking unpaid leave to join the campaign from her role as senior technologist at Schmidt Futures. Chang previously worked as a senior engineer on the 2016 presidential campaign of former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and is a former member of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) voter protection team during the 2018 midterm elections.

“Biden for President takes cybersecurity seriously and is proud to have hired high quality personnel with a diverse breadth of experience, knowledge, and expertise to ensure our campaign remains secure,” a Biden campaign spokesperson told The Hill.

“Jacky and Chris will be central to strengthening the infrastructure we’ve built to mitigate cyber threats, bolster our voter protection efforts, and enhance the overall efficiency and security of the entire campaign.”

The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which noted that the Biden campaign is still looking to hire a senior cloud security architect and a senior cyber incident response analyst. 

Cybersecurity has become an increasing priority for campaigns following the hacking efforts against top officials on the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. Former special counsel Robert Mueller indicted a dozen Russian agents in 2018 for hacking into email accounts of senior Clinton campaign staffers and DNC networks, with Russian agents also targeting election infrastructure and launching a disinformation campaign on social media. 

The Biden campaign has already been targeted by foreign malicious groups. A top Google threat researcher announced last month that his team had found evidence of Chinese hackers targeting Biden campaign staff, and of Iranian hackers targeting staff on the reelection campaign of President Trump. 

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign told The Hill that “we don’t discuss our cybersecurity efforts, but we take it seriously,” confirming that the campaign has “staff that handles those responsibilities.”

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg made waves last year by being the first of the Democratic presidential candidates to hire a CISO for his campaign. 

Mick Baccio, the former Buttigieg campaign CISO, said in a statement on Friday that the Biden campaign’s decision was a “major step in the right direction.”

As security continues to become a paramount issue throughout the election cycle, every political campaign needs a CISO — this a major step in the right direction,” Baccio, who currently serves as a security adviser at Splunk, said in a statement. “This isn’t Chris’ first rodeo — he’s incredibly sharp, and knows where to focus. I applaud the Biden campaign for hiring him and hope to see this as the new normal for campaigns across party lines.”

Tags Biden campaign cybersecurity Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Pete Buttigieg Robert Mueller

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