Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has hired a former Obama administration cyber official as its chief information security officer, in what appears to be the first case of a major 2020 presidential candidate employing an in-house CISO.
Mick Baccio, the Buttigieg pick for CISO, was branch chief of White House Threat Intelligence, and helped build the first department-wide Computer Security Incident Response Center at the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Our campaign is committed to digital security and hiring a full-time CISO is one way we’re protecting against cyberattacks," campaign spokesperson Chris Meagher told POLITICO.
Some experts consider having an in-house CISO vital to presidential campaigns after 2016 election interference.
"This is a positive step forward," said Aaron Trujillo, who led cybersecurity efforts for the DCCC during the 2018 midterms. "While campaigns should certainly tap outside resources for expertise and guidance, oftentimes consultants are not able to be in every internal strategic meeting that takes place in the campaign about issues that may need to be addressed."
POLITICO reached out to every candidate polling above 1 percent as of Aug. 5, none of whom said they had an in-house CISO. Some refused to comment on any cybersecurity matters, and some did not answer requests for information.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has an in-house chief technology officer, with cybersecurity responsibilities falling under the position, a spokesperson said. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s campaign has three in-house information security staffers and also uses some contracted services, a spokesperson said.
The campaigns of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) refused to comment.
The campaigns of President Donald Trump, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former federal house secretary Julián Castro did not answer requests.
As of March, no major presidential candidate had indicated to POLITICO that they had a CISO or chief digital defender.
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