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Obama, McCain get a lesson in cybersecurity
Published: 2008-11-05

Cybersecurity may have a more steadfast proponent when the new U.S. president takes office.

On Wednesday, Newsweek reported that computers at both the Obama campaign and the McCain campaign had been breached during the summer by what U.S. officials stated were foreign attackers. The Obama campaign initially concluded that they had been the victim of a random phishing attack, but the following day, U.S. law enforcement warned the campaign that the attacks were far more serious, the magazine reported.

"Officials at the FBI and the White House told the Obama campaign that they believed a foreign entity or organization sought to gather information on the evolution of both camps' policy positions -- information that might be useful in negotiations with a future administration," Newsweek stated in the report. "The Feds assured the Obama team that it had not been hacked by its political opponents."

The incidents could lead President-elect Barack Obama to put more effort than previous administrations into protecting U.S. computer systems. The Clinton Administration had created a basic foundation for protecting the Internet infrastructure and important computer systems, but little else. The Bush Administration published the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and implemented the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), but otherwise moved slowly on cybersecurity issues -- despite numerous attacks on the networks of government agencies -- until the recent launch of its Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI).

A year ago, a panel of three-dozen security experts announced an effort to craft a strategy to improve the United States' cybersecurity by the time the next president takes office. The effort, spearheaded by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and bi-partisan Congressional leaders, will soon release their recommendations.

A spokesperson for President-elect Obama could not immediately be reached.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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