Protect Your Election: Helping Everyone Get The Full Story

Free and fair elections depend on people having access to the information they need, and around the world the sources of that information are increasingly under attack.

Just hours before the polls opened in this year’s Dutch election, one of Holland’s leading election information sites went offline. The site had been the target of a powerful DDoS attack — a common type of digital attack that overwhelms websites with bogus traffic. Unfortunately, these types of attacks are becoming easier, cheaper, and better organized. With national elections approaching in France, we want to do our part to help.

That’s why today Jigsaw and Google have launched Protect Your Election, a suite of free tools to help defend against common types of digital attacks over the coming months. These tools can help protect news organizations, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites — organizations whose work is particularly critical before and during elections — from online threats like DDoS attacks, phishing and attempts to break into people’s private accounts.

One of those tools is Project Shield, which provides free DDoS protection to news sites, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites. (That Dutch election information site we mentioned earlier? They’re now using Shield and have stayed online in the face of persistent DDoS attacks.) 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 new suite also offers digital defenses for individuals, including Password Alert — a Chrome extension that helps protect against phishing attacks by alerting you if a website is trying to steal your Google password. Another tool offered by Protect Your Election is 2-Step Verification, which provides an extra layer of defense to keep your account secure.

Every day, important news is silenced and activists are repressed by those who want to limit free expression. Digital attacks can take news sites offline for as little as €5. About 125,000 DDoS attacks happen every week and tens of millions of phishing attempts are recorded every few months. In some countries, a stolen password can be devastating for journalists who risk prison or torture to report on important issues. DDoS attacks have often targeted investigative journalists and election monitoring groups in Mexico, Netherlands, Ecuador, Malaysia, Burma, Montenegro, and more. During the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in digital attacks targeting press and journalists.

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.

— By Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce, Google France & Jamie Albers, Jigsaw

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