- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hackers eyeing the U.S. presidential race may have better chances at breaching the Democratic National Committee than its Republican counterpart, a new report indicated Tuesday.

An assessment of the cybersecurity posture of both the DNC and Republican National Committee ranked Democrats below the RNC but identified problems plaguing both, according to the report.

Released by SecurityScorecard, the report rated political parties based on publicly available information about their computer systems potentially indicative of how susceptible they are to cyberattacks, including risk facts such as the rate at which they install software updates and whether any internal data can be accessed online.

“In aggregate, the DNC security scores lag behind the RNC in almost all categories,” the company’s report said.

“While SecurityScorecard believes the DNC has made significant investments in security since 2016, the organizational behavior at managing digital assets still lags behind the RNC.”

DNC and RNC officials defended their respective cybersecurity posture when reached for comment.

“Our understanding from talking to the vendor is that their findings were hygienic and not exploitable,” said Bob Lord, the DNC’s chief security officer. “The DNC has spent the last two years completely overhauling its cyber infrastructure and we continue to welcome help from researchers and other organizations to help improve the security posture of the entire Democratic ecosystem.”

“Cybersecurity is an ever-moving target, and our team is constantly working to stay ahead of emerging threats,” said RNC press secretary Blair Ellis. “Data security remains a priority for the RNC and we continue to proactively work with top IT vendors to stay abreast and monitor potential risks.”

Less than 18 months until Election Day, SecurityScorecard’s report was released as hacking fears swell across Capitol Hill amid new details coming to light about the sorts of computer intrusions suffered during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Russian hackers breached Democratic victims including the DNC ahead of the 2016 elections and stole data later leaked online during the course of a state-sponsored interference campaign, the U.S. intelligence agencies previously concluded.

More recently, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed last week that he learned from the FBI that Russian hackers successfully breached election systems in two state counties during the course of that campaign.

Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced several election security bills written in response to Russian interference in the 2016 race, including a bill offered Tuesday, the Federal Campaign Cybersecurity Assistance Act, that would let national party committees provide cybersecurity assistance to state parties, candidates and their campaign.

“The 2016 election made it painfully clear that campaigns need more help defending against sophisticated cyber threats,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. “The fastest way to make an impact and put more resources into protecting candidates from foreign hacking is to give parties the ability to help in the fight against dangerous foreign influence in our elections.”

Russia is likely to continue interfering in U.S. elections, the heads of the FBI and U.S. State Department said recently.

Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 race.

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