Why it matters: Election integrity is an integral part of protecting freedom of citizens. Microsoft has shown that it is actively working to help prevent meddling in elections by building secure software for end users of any political background.
There have been many allegations of Russia interfering with United States elections ever since the 2016 Presidential Election. Late Monday evening, Microsoft shared that it had taken control of six domain names being used to attempt to capture login credentials from members of the Senate and think tank organizations.
Following warnings of broadened cyber attacks being conducted by Moscow, it is not just the DNC that Russia has targeted. The majority of think tank groups with close ties to the Senate were generally conservative in nature.
Over the past two years, Microsoft has helped shut down 84 websites masquerading as legitimate government sites. Microsoft President Brad Smith states, "We’re concerned that these and other attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections."
In response to increased risk of cyber attacks, Microsoft is expanding its Defending Democracy Program with a new feature called Microsoft AccountGuard. Candidates and campaign offices at all levels of government will be provided with additional security features free of charge for Office 365.
AccountGuard has three key services that make it easier to identify potential risks. End users will receive notifications when hacking attempts are made and if a compromise is made, Microsoft will offer tailored solutions on how to best prevent further damage. Second, ongoing guidance will be provided to ensure that multi-factor authentication is being used, security patches are being applied, and other best practices are being followed.
Finally, Microsoft will be offering early access to new security features to customers with government ties. There is hope that staying up to date will make it significantly more difficult for compromises to occur.