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Obama Campaign Seeks Web-Site Security Help

Two months after its Web site was hacked by a Hillary Clinton supporter, Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is looking for a network security expert to help lock down the site. The job requirements posted on are pretty much what you'd expect in any help-wanted ad for an online security position: VPN and Unix or Linux experience, plus a "deep understanding" of the LAMP stack of open-source software. And, of course, applicants must be willing to "respond off-hours to high-urgency security situations." Some security researchers said that this is the first time they can remember seeing a Web security job advertised by a political campaign. But even if security jobs aren't always advertised openly, online security is a top priority for political campaigns, said Henry Poole, a co-founder of CivicActions LLC. "Maybe it's just an issue of the Obama campaign being more transparent," Poole added. And with much of the money he has raised coming via the Internet, security is arguably more important to Obama than it has been to any of the other presidential candidates. Obama's site, built by Facebook Inc. co-founder Chris Hughes, has been a model for Web 2.0-style campaigning through its use of social networking techniques to help raise funds and build a broad base of active, Internet-savvy supporters. But powerful Web site features can also open up new avenues for hackers. In the April incident, for example, a programming error allowed the perpetrator to redirect part of Obama's Web site to Clinton's. And a SQL injection attack that exposed sensitive data could have much more serious consequences. "If I was able to get access to the database that houses their donor information, that would be very concerning," said Oliver Friedrichs, a director of emerging technologies at Symantec Corp. A Web site privacy breach could quickly become a major campaign issue, Poole noted. "For a big office," he said, "things like the reputation of the candidate are really important."

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