Microsoft Warns of Political Cyberattacks, Announces Free Vote-Verification Software

“Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it would give away software designed to improve the security of American voting machines,” reports NBC News.

Microsoft also said its AccountGuard service has already spotted 781 cyberattacks by foreign adversaries targeting political organizations — 95% of which were located in the U.S.

The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses encryption to “enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting.” The company is working with election machine vendors and local governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the 2020 election. The system uses an encrypted tracking code to allow a voter to verify that his or her vote has been recorded and has not been tampered with, Microsoft said in a blog post…

Edward Perez, an election security expert with the independent Open Source Election Technology Institute, said Microsoft’s move signals that voting systems, long a technology backwater, are finally receiving attention from the county’s leading technical minds. “We think that it’s good when a technology provider as significant as Microsoft is stepping into something as nationally important as election security,” Perez told NBC News. “ElectionGuard does provide verification and it can help to detect attacks. It’s important to note that detection is different from prevention.”

Microsoft also said its notified nearly 10,000 customers that they’ve been targeted or compromised by nation-state cyberattacks, according to the article — mostly from Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

“While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process,” Microsoft said in a blog post, “this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyberattacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics, or achieve other objectives.”

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