Spies, Hackers and Scammers on the Campaign Trail
The pressure cooker, fly by night environment of campaigns makes them vulnerable in a unique way to criminals and hackers and campaign operatives say experts in cybersecurity.
In addition, a data mining system is essential for modern political campaigns, and parties and candidates are collecting and maintaining more personal data on each voter than at any previous time.
In recent years, there has been more and more problems with cybersecurity when it comes to campaign information. Misplaced voter or donor information and data breaches can end up in the hands of the wrong people.
Foreign intelligence services reportedly have found their way into the servers used by campaigns.
Hackers wanting to embarrass different politicians have altered website of campaigns, while scammers of credit cards have found making small donations is an excellent way to test Visa and MasterCard numbers that have been stolen.
Since campaigns are not setup for a long period, they focus on just winning while security is second in the level of importance or even lower.
The biggest known breach of personal data in politics took place in 2009, when WikiLeaks posted information for credit cards from over 4,700 online donors for Norm Coleman.
At that time, Coleman was in a heated recount race with Al Franken and seeking donations to maintain his legal battle.
However, his campaign was required to ask its donors to cancel all their credit cards.
Several vendors or campaigns have inadvertently exposed voter or user information from data on credit cards to personal addresses.
This past May, some of the campaigns that used NationBuilder, a platform for political webhosting exposed information inadvertently like phone numbers and home addresses to anyone with the email addresses to the supporters.
Since that time, NationBuilder has closed that loophole. The company would not speak about the data security or user privacy when requested to comment.
Political consultants say that the majority of campaigns are aware of vulnerabilities.