It is becoming increasingly clear that people are rather easy to manipulate, and democracy is rather more fragile than we suspected.

Microsoft has now stepped forward with a program which they say is designed to protect the democratic process from being hacked.  The aim is for governments and technology companies to work together to safeguard the electoral processes.

Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program is intended to work with all stakeholders in democratic countries globally to:

  • Protect campaigns from hacking through increased cyber resilience measures, enhanced account monitoring and incident response capabilities;
  • Increase political advertising transparency online by supporting relevant legislative proposals such as the Honest Ads Act and adopting additional self-regulatory measures across our platforms;
  • Explore technological solutions to preserve and protect electoral processes and engage with federal, state and local officials to identify and remediate cyber threats; and
  • Defend against disinformation campaigns in partnership with leading academic institutions and think tanks dedicated to countering state-sponsored computational propaganda and junk news.

At BUILD 2019 Microsoft announced two new solutions aimed at addressing the security of voting systems around the world:

ElectionGuard

ElectionGuard is a free, open-source software development kit, developed in partnership with Galois, that provides security and public verifiability for elections, as well as guidance and tools to build more accessible voting systems. Microsoft is asking developers around the world to build on and integrate ElectionGuard into existing and new voting systems. The ElectionGuard SDK will be available this summer on GitHub, and Microsoft has partnered with several leading election technology providers to pilot this service in preparation for future elections.

Microsoft 365 for Campaigns

Microsoft is also announcing Microsoft 365 for Campaigns. This new service, also available in June, will provide the high-end security capabilities of Microsoft 365 Business offering to political parties and campaigns, initially those for federal office in the United States. It will do so in a streamlined way and at a low price, preconfigured to optimize for the unique operating environments campaigns face, including their fast pace and high-security-risk profile.

Microsoft 365 for Campaigns builds on the AccountGuard threat-detection and nation-state attack notification service we announced in 2018 and simplifies security for political organizations by providing specialized wizards that campaigns can use to easily and efficiently harden their security posture from the ground up.

Interested campaigns can sign up by visiting m365forcampaigns.microsoft.com.

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