Websites belonging to Irish politicians found to be unsafe

Study finds 74% of sites owned by political representatives lack HTTPS encryption

HTTPS encrypts data in transit so that unauthorised third parties cannot intercept and decipher it.

HTTPS encrypts data in transit so that unauthorised third parties cannot intercept and decipher it.

 

Many Irish politicians have unsafe websites where any private information shared by the public could be intercepted, manipulated or stolen, according to a new study.

The Comparitech report shows that 74 per cent of personal or campaign sites belonging to Irish politicians lack basis security protection, meaning that any information shared via them is neither private nor secure.

According to the study, two-thirds of websites owned by politicians here lack Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encryption because they do not use valid secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates.

HTTPS encrypts data in transit so that unauthorised third parties cannot intercept and decipher it. Getting an SSL certificate and implementing HTTPS is seen as being neither difficult nor expensive, meaning that politicians have little excuse for not properly securing their sites.

Enter personal information

Many websites owned by politicians both here and elsewhere allow members of the public to register accounts, log in, sign up for newsletters, or send a message to representatives. These forms often request users enter personal information, such as their name or their email address. However, none of these interactions can be properly protected without HTTPS.

The worst-performing political party in terms of website security was Fine Gael. Some 76.7 per cent of sites connected to members of the party lacked HTTPS encryption.

Sinn Féin performed almost as poorly with 75 per cent of associated websites lacking basic security. Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, was the best party with 62 per cent of politicians having HTTPS encryption for their sites.

7,500 political representatives

Overall, three out of five politicians’ websites globally lack basic HTTPS encryption, according to the study of more than 7,500 political representatives across 37 countries.

Irish politicians performed particularly poorly when ranked against the US, where just 26 per cent of representatives were found to have insecure websites. The other leading countries in terms of secure political websites were the UK, Germany, Austria and Denmark.

However, Irish political representatives were far from being the worst offenders. In South Korea, a region long praised for its super-fast internet connections, 92 per cent of politicians’ websites were not secure.