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2020 Presidential Candidates Face Cybersecurity Questions

You talk the cybersecurity talk but do you walk the walk, a recent study asks the large field of 2020 presidential candidates, including President Trump. Based on one analysis, some do and some don't.

Of the 12 candidates currently in the presidential race, each has yet to be fully secure online, SiteLock, a Scottsdale, Arizona website security provider, determined based on its report card to assess the contenders’ cybersecurity awareness. SiteLock's criteria was based on the candidate’s cybersecurity platform, their cybersecurity actions, their privacy and data practices, and their email security.

“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,” SiteLock said in a blog post.

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) scored the highest in cybersecurity awareness, each with an A-, followed closely by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who rated a B+. “Since , political leaders have grappled with cybersecurity awareness on a global stage — and not all have done so gracefully,” SiteLock said.

Here’s how the other candidates scored:

  • Trump B
  • Castro B
  • O’Rourke B
  • Harris B-
  • Buttigieg C+
  • Weld C+
  • Klobuchar C
  • Biden C-
  • Yang D+

Of note, Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, rates second to the bottom in cybersecurity preparation.

The candidates struggle most with email security, particularly subscription forms (they’re not alone, many businesses do), and upgrading older software. Of the 12 candidates, only Kamala Harris, (D-CA) included a CAPTCHA on the email form, a defense utility to prevent bots from stealing email addresses. Nearly 60 percent of the candidates’ websites use out-of-date software or older content management system templates, such as an outdated WordPress template, that undermines their security.

The good news is those candidates whose security profile is poor can recover, SiteLock said. “If a candidate’s cybersecurity awareness is currently lacking, it doesn’t mean they’re doomed,” SiteLock wrote. “Technologies and training to support a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy are accessible to politicians, organizations or businesses of any size. On the road to November 2020, voters should continue to press candidates on the issue of cybersecurity.”

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.