Campaign Cybersecurity - Defending Digital Campaigns

ddc-ceo
Earlier in 2019, I joined the Defending Digital Campaigns board and helped recruit a leadership team and an initial set of cyber vendors to help any federal candidate protect their campaign from cyber threats.  We recently announced Michael Kaiser as the DDC CEO. Michael agreed to answer a variety of questions about campaign security and how the DDC can help in an interview for the Gula Tech Adventures blog.
Q1 - What is the mission of Defending Digital Campaigns?
 
Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC) goal is making our political process more secure by providing political parties and campaigns with knowledge, products and services to defend themselves from cyber threats and attacks.
 
DDC received an FEC Administrative Opinion that allows it to act as an intermediary between cybersecurity vendors and the campaign ecosystem to bring free or reduced-price products and services that don’t run afoul of campaign contribution laws.
 
Ultimately, we want campaigns to understand that cybersecurity is essential. Protecting a candidate, the campaign intellectual property, such as polling data, policy drafts, donor lists and technology infrastructure will protect our democratic process and also create more members of government who have experience with cyber risk management. 
 
Q2 - What drew you to wanting to join and be CEO?
 
There were so many elements of what DDC is and does that sparked my interest. First and foremost, the mission is critical. Campaigns are the core of our election process and face significant cybersecurity threats and challenges. Helping them build their resistance to cyber threats, is helping protect our democracy at the most fundamental level.
 
I was also impressed by the board and the way they created DDC as a non-partisan, non-aligned organization. After a decade as the Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, I have come to understand the power of a neutral third party in cybersecurity. DDC is built around the understanding that solving this issue for the campaign ecosystem demands we work together in collaboration. DDC represents a tremendous opportunity to create an organization and have a lasting impact. For someone who has spent their entire career in the nonprofit sector, that’s a compelling challenge.
  
Q3 - What has been the response from the vendor community?
 
The vendor community has been fantastic. For most of the people we talk to, cybersecurity is not just a business proposition. Most people reach out and seek to get involved not because they are seeking market share, though I am fine if that’s what they are looking for, but they know how critical this issue is to our country and want to help in any way we can.  I am not surprised by this. A great many members of the cybersecurity community come from backgrounds in serving the greater good. Whether they are former military or government, law enforcement, or played a role protecting critical infrastructure, when they hear what DDC is doing their first instinct is to get involved and help.
 
They understand campaigns need free or low-cost cybersecurity products and services that scale into this dynamic sector, and are willing to give serious thought and collaborate with us in making that happen. I have been impressed with how many companies are willing to break with their traditional model of serving customers to find ways to support the campaigns.
 
We are always seeking more companies and partners to participate. If any of your readers have a product or service that they believe would be a good match for protecting the campaign ecosystem, we would be happy to learn more and explain how participation in our efforts work. We usually start with a getting to know you phone conversation. If people are interested, they can email me at
[email protected].
 
Q4 - What has been the response from the campaigns?
 
I have been pleased with the responses we have gotten so far and am confident that will continue as the cycle unfolds. The good news is that campaigns are thinking about cybersecurity. Our job is to help them implement protections as quickly and easily as possible. The national parties and committees (Senate and Congress) are active on the issue as well. They play a key role informing campaigns about the issue, the need to take cybersecurity seriously, and introducing campaigns to DDC.
 
Q5 - Where can readers go to learn more about DDC, campaign security or getting involved?
 
Our website is a good starting point
www.defendcampaigns.org.