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Microsoft offers online protection to politicos amid pre-election security fears

Microsoft offers online protection to politicos amid pre-election security fears
Politics
OTTAWA -- As a federal election approaches, Microsoft is offering advanced online threat-detection tools to Canadian political candidates and parties to shore up their cyberdefences.

Microsoft s AccountGuard, designed to warn customers about cyberthreats -- including attacks by nation-states -- will be provided free to registered parties at the federal and provincial level, think-tanks and democracy advocacy organizations that already use the company s Office 365, Outlook.com and Hotmail products.

In providing the tools, the company is mindful that Russian intelligence agents stand accused of hacking Democratic party emails and computers during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

That can open the door to data theft or stolen emails that may be used for damaging leaks or extortion.

Microsoft s monitoring team will help detect malicious activity against accounts, try to determine the source of the attempted intrusion and inform customers of threats.

Many organizations in politics have small staffs and modest budgets, Neutze noted.

"Yet they re facing nation-state adversaries. And so it s a total mismatch in terms of their capabilities to defend themselves versus the threats that they re facing."

Some, but not all, larger organizations such as political parties have started to take more protective measures, he said. "I think there s a recognition that oftentimes organizations aren t necessarily able to defend against these threats by themselves."

The Liberal government recently announced that an impartial group of senior bureaucrats would warn Canadians if malicious actors try to distort the outcome of the October election through serious cyberattacks or orchestrated disinformation campaigns via social media.
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