Cyberattacks against democratic institutions are on the rise and have steadily increased in intensity over the past few years. With citizens across Europe heading to the polls in May, defending these organizations from digital attacks has become a pressing concern.
Today we’re announcing the expansion of Project Shield to European political organizations — extending free protection to campaigns and candidates ahead of the EU parliamentary elections in May 2019. Now both European political organizations will have the same access to Google’s defense technology that previously was only available to news organizations and human rights groups.
Project Shield was launched in 2016 to protect independent news and human rights organizations from DDoS attacks, but in the wake of major election breaches and targeted political cyber attacks, Project Shield can now be used to give political groups the same defense.
One doesn’t need to look far to find examples of DDoS attacks disrupting the democratic process in Europe and its neighbors. In October of 2017, the Czech Republic parliamentary elections were targeted by a DDoS attack, breaching the country’s statistical office as they were counting the votes. Around the same time, the website of Spain’s Constitutional Court was forced offline by a DDoS attack perpetrated by cyber-activists, just as the Spanish government prepared to seize power from Catalonia’s regional government. Cybersecurity firm Link11 reported that the scale and volume of DDoS attacks continued to grow in Europe during 2018, with attacks increasing by 71% in just the third quarter of 2018.
While Project Shield is integral to keeping websites protected against DDoS attacks, it is just one piece of a broader Jigsaw initiative, Protect Your Election. This suite of free tools helps political organizations at the center of our democracies defend against some of the most common forms of digital attacks, including phishing, DDoS, and unauthorized account access. The nature of cyber attacks is changing, and technology needs to constantly adapt. That’s why Jigsaw sends teams to countries hosting elections to help train important institutions and campaigns on how to use common digital security tools.
Built on Google’s infrastructure, Shield protects sites from DDoS attacks using a reverse proxy multi-layer defense system. That means that requests from end users first come through Project Shield, where our infrastructure can filter out malicious traffic. The legitimate requests are then passed through to the publisher’s website.
The tool is free and easy to set up. The first time setting up Shield is the only time — just set it, and trust that your website is safe from DDoS attacks. Visit our site to learn more about Project Shield and Protect Your Election.
— Scott Carpenter, Director of Policy and International Engagement at Jigsaw.