Voters concerned a cyberattack could impact the 2016 presidential election

The presidential election is still more than a year away, but with cyber breaches recently striking several federal agencies the cybersecurity is at the forefront of voters and candidates.
The presidential election is still more than a year away, but with cyber breaches recently striking several federal agencies the cybersecurity is at the forefront of voters and candidates.

The presidential election is still more than a year away, but with cyber breaches recently striking several federal agencies the cybersecurity is at the forefront of voters and candidates.

Some of the concerns being voiced by the electorate range from a fear the election itself will be compromised in some fashion to which candidate promises to do the best job when it comes to securing the nation's cyber borders, according to a study by the data security company PKWARE.

The study found 64 percent of registered U.S. voters believe the upcoming presidential campaign will be compromised in some fashion. However, V. Newton Miller, PKWARE's CEO, said any attack is not likely to hit the ballot box, but more probably target the candidate's campaign websites.

“I believe the campaign sites are ripe [for an attack],” Miller told SCMagazine.com, adding his pick for who will launch such an attack would be an international player – Iran, Russia or China, but he also did not discount domestic activists or campaign operatives.

Miller (left) had several suggestions not only for the campaign sites, but for the nation's cyber defense in general.

“On a strategic level we need a cabinet level position devoted to cybercrime,” he said.

For the campaign sites he recommended those in charge take what is usually the first step in any standard 12-step problem: admitting there is a problem. 

“They must first understand and admit that their network will get compromised,” Miller noted, and then spend the money needed to help keep out the bad guys. This would include ensuring data is encrypted at the network core and when it travels up into the cloud.

PKWARE also found registered voters do not believe either party stands out when it comes to being able to best handle cybersecurity issues. The survey found 38 percent chose the Democrats and 36 percent the GOP as best suited to protect the nation's cyber interests.

However, when information professionals are thrown into the mix on the topic a more definitive viewpoint is found. A Tripwire survey found that 68 percent of IT professionals would prefer to vote for a presidential candidate with a strong cybersecurity policy. Tripwire also found that just over half, 54 percent, said that cybersecurity policy and regulation would play a key role in the election, however, a strong minority, 32 percent, also felt any cybersecurity discussions conducted by the candidates would consist primarily of rhetoric.

Miller's survey also pointed out that voters are concerned and want to know the candidates position on cyber issues and he called it “inexcusable” that most candidates have not obliged this public demand.

One exception has been former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush who released his cybersecurity plank Monday. It consisted of making the issue a focus and set security goals for government and private industry, for the president's office and government in general to take the cybersecurity threat more seriously and increase U.S. intelligence and law enforcement cybersecurity capabilities.

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