FEC Votes To Allow Lawmakers to Utilize Campaign Funds for Cybersecurity

The FederalElection Committee (FEC) has voted to allow the lawmakers to use their leftover campaign funds to safeguard and protect their email accounts and devices from cyber intimidations.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) proposes this measure which got unanimously passed by the commission.

While submitting the request to the FEC, Sen. Wyden admits that he hadn’t gone through any personal threats so far. However, he said that the cyber threats elected officials to face ‘’attacks by sophisticated state-sponsored hackers and also intelligence agencies against any personal devices and accounts.’’

The FEC wrote; ‘’The Commission concludes that you might use your campaign funds to pay for the costs of security measures to protect your devices and accounts without such payments constituting an impermissible conversion of campaign funds to personal use, under the Act and Commission regulations.’’

Furthermore, in the advisory opinion, FEC recognizes that both Dan Coats, director of the National Intelligence, and Michael Rogers, ex-director of the National Security Agency (NSA), agrees that the personal accounts of officials are at high risk of cyber-attacks.

Ben Johnson, co-founder, and CTO, Obsidian Security states; ‘’it is becoming increasingly clear in recent years that foreign attackers are viewing institutions which support democracy as a high-value target. From election equipment to the elected representatives themselves, malevolent actors systematically look for access.’’

He added; ‘’ the ruling by the FEC allowing the leftover campaign funds to purchase the additional cybersecurity detection and protection has kept the conversation about election protection going on. We need to ask whether cybersecurity should have to rely on unpredictable leftover funds or else it should be a key component to candidate’s campaign machinery. Personal devices and accounts are coupled with corporate and government security.’’

The cybersecurity for campaigns and candidates emerges as a major issue following the 2016 attack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) along with the compromise of Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s account. It results in the release of internal Democratic emails in the lead-up to the 2016 executive elections.

Sen. Wyden also pushed for the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms to protect their conventional devices and personal accounts which they were unable to do before for personal ones or those of their families.

Moreover, earlier this year Microsoft reveals that three congressional candidates in the 2018 midterms have become the victims by cyber actors. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) confirms that she was among the one who was targeted by the cyber attackers. Also, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) states last week that it was also the victim of a hack with actors being able to survey the emails of numerous top committee bureaucrats ahead of the midterms.