Security Experts:

Google Launches Free "Protect Your Election" Service

Google and Jigsaw have launched of a set of free tools designed to help different types of organizations defend against common types of digital attacks.

Dubbed Protect Your Election, the tools are aimed at news organizations, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites, which are often targeted by cyber-attacks leading up to elections.

“With national elections approaching in France, we want to do our part to help,” Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce from Google France, and Jamie Albers of Jigsaw, note in a blog post. Jigsaw is an incubator run by Google parent Alphabet that tackles geopolitical issues and global security challenges. 

Jigsaw and Google are now working together to protect specific organizations not only from DDoS attacks, but from phishing and attempts to break into people’s private accounts as well.

One of the tools available to these organizations is Project Shield, which was launched a year ago to offer free DDoS protection. One of the sites currently using Shield is a Dutch election information site that was knocked offline hours before polls opened in this year’s Dutch election.

Last year’s US Presidential election represented a target for hackers as well, with many organizations associated with the election being targeted. At the end of 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attributed the attacks to Russian hackers, while also imposing sanctions on two intelligence agencies, expelling 35 agents and shuttering two Russian compounds inside the United States.

The new Protect Your Election suite of tools provides digital defenses to individuals as well. One of them is Password Alert, a Chrome extension that can protect against phishing attacks by alerting users when a website is trying to steal their Google password. There’s also 2-Step Verification that users can take advantage of to add an extra layer of defense.

Attacks against news sites, journalists and activists happen every day, carried out by those who want to limit free expression. This is also possible because such attacks are priced incredibly low. A DDoS attack that takes a news site offline can cost as little as €5, and tens of thousands of DDoS incidents happen weekly, along with millions of phishing attempts.

“In some countries, a stolen password can be devastating for journalists who risk prison or torture to report on important issues. DDoS attacks have often targeted investigative journalists and election monitoring groups in Mexico, Netherlands, Ecuador, Malaysia, Burma, Montenegro, and more. During the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in digital attacks targeting press and journalists,” Dauba-Pantanacce and Albers note.

Protect Your Election, the pair notes, aims to make it much easier for organizations to defend themselves against these threats and to help journalists publish freely. Further, it aims at helping citizens access stories, debates and policies during a country’s elections.

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