Google, Jigsaw Partner on Free Tools to Secure Elections

Jigsaw and Google said they would offer a free suite of security tools aimed at securing political elections.

Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw announced on Tuesday that it and Google would offer a free suite of security tools aimed at securing political elections.

The announcement was fresh off a tense House Intelligence Committee meeting on Monday during which FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau was conducting a counterintelligence investigation into the Russians’ alleged interference into the U.S. presidential election.

Comey said during his testimony, given in conjunction with NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers, that the Russians’ strategy of interfering in foreign elections would not be deterred and that they would “be back” for the 2018 mid-term Congressional elections and the 2020 presidential race.

The Jigsaw suite, called Protect Your Election, will be offered to officials in France, Germany and South Korea, according to a Reuters report.

The tools concentrate protection on three key areas attackers would likely target in cyberattacks against election infrastructure: distributed denial of service attacks, unauthorized account access, and phishing emails. Jigsaw and Google said that entities running state and national elections can make use of the free tools, as well as journalists and news organizations likely to be targeted by state-sponsored hackers.

Project Shield is the DDoS protection piece of the suite; most notably, it was used during the Mirai-fueled attack against journalist Brian Krebs’ website last fall in the lead-up to the attacks on Dyn and a French webhost by a massive botnet made up of connected IOT devices.

The suite also includes Google’s various two-factor authentication tools, including its Security Key, a physical USB fob used as a second factor of authentication that takes the place of a code sent via text or voice call.

Password Alert is the final piece of the suite, and it’s a Chrome extension meant to curtail phishing attacks. The extension checks websites a user surfs to on the Google browser and fires off an alert if a Google Account password is entered onto a non-Google sign-in page.

The Russians’ alleged interference in the U.S. election, Comey confirmed, did not include attacks against voting machines or infrastructure. Instead, Russian intelligence is accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee and spilling secrets, including strategic emails from key party members, in an attempt to sway voters toward away from Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. Comey said during this week’s hearing the Russians’ actions were successful in introducing “chaos and discord” into the election process.

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