Updated Aug 14, 2018

Study: One-third of U.S. House candidates have vulnerable websites

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Three of every 10 candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives have websites with significant security vulnerabilities, according to research unveiled at cybersecurity conference DEF CON this weekend, per Reuters.

The big picture: Campaigns don't benefit from the kind of federal assistance that states are receiving from Congress to handle election security, and candidates often run on tight budgets and can't always pay for cybersecurity expertise.

  • There are a few free services available to campaigns to help protect against attacks that can flood sites with too much traffic and force them to shut down, including offerings from Cloudflare and Google-owned Jigsaw.
  • Otherwise, they can contact party officials when they suspect they've been targeted, or work with nonprofit groups such as the Defending Digital Democracy Project (D3P) at Harvard. That, or they can hope to have volunteers on board with cyber know-how.

Why it matters: Director of national intelligence Dan Coats has warned that Russian hackers are targeting both candidates and government officials. Midterms are less than 100 days away.

The details:

  • The researchers found problems with websites’ digital certificates that are supposed to verify secure connections.
  • Vulnerabilities were found for Democrats and Republicans alike.
  • The researchers said they are working to contact all the candidates implicated so they can better secure their websites.
  • The group also found several websites built to trick users by changing just a few letters of candidates’ names. The tactic can be used to build fronts for spearphishing campaigns.
  • Joshua Franklin, who used to work at the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institutes for Standards and Technology and who led the research team, used automated scans and test programs to identify vulnerabilities.

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

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Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

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