Stupid Campaign Tricks: BlackBerry Data Exposed

Last week, a McCain for President Campaign office in Virginia was selling used BlackBerries, sans batteries and power cords. These devices were part of a rummage sale from the 2008 Presidential campaign.

A reporter from a Virginia TV station bought some of the devices, installed batteries, and charged them up. Behold, the data had not been erased from the devices. The station called a McCain-Palin campaign worker, who said, “It was an unfortunate staff error and procedures are being put in place to ensure all information is secure.” Let’s get this straight, the campaign is over, and just now security procedures are being put into place?

BlackBerries and the Blackberry Enterprise Server are part of one of the most secure mobile systems on the market today. For example, if one enters in the wrong password more than a set number of times into the device, the data auto-deletes. There is also a “remote delete” feature that allows an administrator to remotely wipe the data on one, or many devices, with a simple key stroke.

Following the reports of cyber attackers penetrating the Obama and McCain campaigns, and the attack against Palin’s Yahoo webmail account, one would think that security procedures would already be in place. It appears that there were no passwords on these devices, and that there were no remote wipe procedures in place.

If 2008 was the campaign where the Internet was integrated into winning campaigns, then the 2010 campaign should be the year that data security is integrated into the winning campaigns.

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