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Google Offers Free Security to Election Sites

Google has teamed up with sister company Jigsaw to offer news sites, rights groups and election monitoring organizations free cybersecurity tools, ensuring voters aren’t thwarted in attempts to access information ahead of key elections.

Protect Your Election is a suite of tools designed to protect these organizations from some of the most common and damaging types of online attack.

It includes Project Shield – a DDoS protection service already offered free-of-charge to rights groups, news sites and the like by Jigsaw.

It fits neatly with the core mission statement of the Alphabet firm – to counter extremism and protect free speech around the world.

Also included in the package are Password Alert, a Chrome extension designed to help prevent phishing by alerting users if a site they’ve visited is trying to steal their passwords.

Finally, there’s 2-Step Verification to help further protect Google accounts against forced entry by enhancing traditional password-based systems with two-factor authentication.

Protect Your Election has already seen success in bringing back online one of the Netherlands’ leading election information sites after a powerful DDoS attack downed it ahead of polling there last week.

And Google/Jigsaw are hoping the suite will help in similar ways to protect organizations ahead of the French presidential elections next month.

“It’s important to provide free protection to these organizations in particular, as they are the groups that provide voters with information they need to make informed decisions,” the firms argued in a blog post.  

“Today, making information accessible also means protecting it, which is why Jigsaw and Google created Protect Your Election. By making it easier for organizations to defend themselves against these threats, journalists can publish freely and citizens can access the stories, the debates, and the policies when it’s most important to a nation—during a country’s elections—so that everyone can get the full story.”

The launch comes as tech and news organizations gear up to battle attempts to influence upcoming European elections via fake news.

CrossCheck is a journalism verification project launched by the First Draft Network and Google News Lab, with a goal to ensure “hoaxes, rumors and false claims are swiftly debunked”.

Facebook – which has been heavily criticized in the past for its role in publishing fake news – is backing the project.

The social media giant has also launched a separate effort in France with the same end goal, encouraging users to flag articles they think may be fake, which will be subsequently tagged as such if participating news organizations agree.

Fake news hit the headlines in a big way during the US presidential elections, with Russian agents accused by many of spreading fallacious stories designed to discredit Hillary Clinton.

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