FEC ruling allows political campaign to accept discounted services from security firms

Political campaigns can accept low-cost help from private cybersecurity firms to protect campaigns in the 2020 election cycle, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled Thursday.

The commission, which viewed the discounted services as an in kind donation under current rules, had indicated it would reject the initiative but changed course. Because Area 1 Security, the company that brought the case before the FEC, “would offer these services in the ordinary course of business and on the same terms and conditions as offered to similarly situated non-political clients, the Commission concludes that the proposal would not result in prohibited in-kind contributions and thus is permissible,” FEC Chairman Ellen Weintraub wrote in the commission’s opinion.

The FEC settled a long-standing debate about how private companies can help protect the 2020 U.S. presidential election cycle from nation-state attackers and other advanced email threats. “Our democracy is founded on the right to vote and for the citizens to choose our elected officials,” said Agari CMO Armen Najarian, who praised the FEC for settling the longstanding debate over private firms’ role in protecting the elections from email threats and nation-state actors. The “decision ensures the next President of the United States will be decided by the voters, not cybercriminals or nation-state influencers.”

Najarian expects “cyberattacks against the 2020 U.S. presidential candidates will be more aggressive than we’ve seen before, because these attackers continue to move away from content-based techniques and towards identity-based attacks, which many cybersecurity technologies cannot detect.”

Pointing out that “the Clinton campaign fell victim to a brand impersonation phishing attack that many people believe influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” he said 2020 campaigns must take steps to “defend the integrity of the U.S. presidential election and ensure humanity prevails over evil.”

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