Websites of Most Presidential Candidates Fail Privacy Test

October 5, 2015, Written By Bill Hardekopf
Senator Hillary Clinton campaigning for president during winter 2008, defensive posture

Secure websites are critical for any company or organization, but apparently not to the Presidential candidates.

A recent study completed by the Online Trust Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes online security, privacy and identity protection, analyzed the website safety of the top twenty-three Presidential candidates, including six Democrats, sixteen Republicans and one Green Party candidate.

Only six candidates’ websites passed the privacy test.

OTA studied the safety of each site “by signing up for email, making donations and using external analysis publically available tools and data provided by more than a dozen technology, security and privacy data sources.”

The study focused on three categories:

  1. Privacy: the way data is shared and retained, the privacy policy, and restrictions placed on third parties.
  2. Security: the overall security, including the use of encryption and firewalls.
  3. Consumer Protection: how candidates protect donors’ emails using authentication and encryption.

Candidates either failed the analysis or qualified for the “Honor Roll.” To be listed on the Honor Roll, the candidate needed to score 80% or higher.

Seventeen candidates failed, including Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as Republicans Donald Trump and Ben Carson. The only six who passed were Republicans Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker, and Democrats Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley.

The largest area of concern was the candidates’ privacy policies. Fortunately, this is an easy issue to fix. Some candidates lacked a privacy policy altogether, while others did not mention how data would be retained or shared. Even worse, some had privacy policies that allowed them to share data with “like-minded entities” or other third parties. Some could even sell donor data.

The OTA wrote “candidates should not rest on their laurels and become complacent,” as “they are the prime targets for people motivated by the commercial value of the data or politics and hacktivism.” Thus, candidates should be prepared for a breach and have a plan ready in case of one.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of October 5, 2015. For up-to-date
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