Tech giant Microsoft launches new electronic voting system called ElectionGuard

Soon big tech could be directly involved in elections.

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Microsoft's products are historically known for their high degree of unreliability when it comes to security. But the tech giant is now positioning itself as the leader in all kinds of initiatives in critical security spaces, including voting security ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.

More than that, Microsoft continues to pitch itself as that enterprise giant with altruistic, society-oriented motives that trump all others.

Hence its CVP of Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt said that “no single company can tackle these issues, and the need to protect democracy is more important than corporate competition.”

No single company can do it – but Microsoft seems to be trying: its electronic voting system dubbed ElectionGuard was recently demoed at the Aspen Security Forum when it was revealed that the company will “work with suppliers of more than half of the voting systems used in the United States today.”

ElectionGuard uses the encryption model with weaker security properties, known as homomorphic encryption. Voters who use it get a tracking code to be able to determine, via a website, if their vote had been counted, or tampered with. And the “new” Microsoft, once a fierce enemy of anything open source, promised it would release the open-source code for ElectionGuard on GitHub.

Since Burt's post concerned all manner of things Microsoft is doing “to counter threats against democracy,” it addressed other points.

For example, the company has pinpointed attacks on some 10,000 of its customers coming from Iran, North Korea, and Russia – mostly geared toward email accounts of corporate customers.

The attacks could aim to gather intelligence, or could be “searching for ways to achieve political objectives.”

For this market, Microsoft has come up with AccountGuard – specifically designed to protect Office 365 users who are politicians, political parties, campaign staff, and some NGOs and charities.

However, all this may still not be enough because voters still are manipulated with misinformation before casting their ballots.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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