Buttigieg's cybersecurity chief leaves campaign

The top cybersecurity official on former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWarren-Sanders fight raises alarm on the left New Hampshire Rep. Kuster endorses Buttigieg Hillicon Valley: Trump turns up heat on Apple over gunman’s phone | Mnuchin says Huawei won’t be ‘chess piece’ in trade talks | Dems seek briefing on Iranian cyber threats | Buttigieg loses cyber chief MORE’s presidential campaign has resigned. 

Mick Baccio, who served as Buttigieg’s chief information security officer, told the news outlet CyberScoop that he left the campaign earlier this month due to “fundamental philosophical differences with the campaign management regarding the architecture and scope of the information security program.”

Baccio’s resignation comes amid renewed concerns of foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. elections. Just this week, The New York Times reported that Russian military officials hacked the Ukrainian gas company at the center of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Nunes threatened to sue him over criticism Parnas: U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed to clear path for investigations into Bidens Five takeaways from Parnas’s Maddow interview MORE’s impeachment proceedings.

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Baccio, a former cyber official in the Obama administration, was hired by Buttigieg’s campaign last summer to help protect it from hackers and other online threats. The hire made Buttigieg’s campaign the first to bring on a full-time staff member to oversee cybersecurity.

Baccio did not elaborate on the disagreements that led to his resignation when reached by The Hill. A spokesperson for Buttigieg confirmed that he had resigned and said that the campaign had retained a new security firm.

“Mick resigned earlier this month and we thank him for the work he did to protect our campaign against attacks,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Our campaign has retained a new security firm and continues to be committed to digital security and protecting against cyber attacks.”

His resignation came just weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the first-in-the-nation nominating contest, on Feb. 3. 

Cybersecurity emerged as a significant topic of concern in the 2020 presidential election after the events of 2016, when Russian operatives hacked into the email accounts of Democratic operatives, including John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWarren-Sanders fight raises alarm on the left Poll: Trump trails 2020 Democratic contenders in Michigan US company offers free cybersecurity assistance to campaigns MORE’s presidential campaign.

Federal law enforcement and intelligence officials have warned that foreign actors are poised to try to interfere in this year’s election as well. 

—Updated at 1:37 p.m.

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