Leading Tech Companies Engage with US Government to Protect America

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TheBridge and Synack Convene Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft, and Cloudflare to Take Steps Towards Securing American Elections.

The Aspen Institute's Matt Rhoades, Synack CEO Jay Kaplan, Microsoft Sr Security Strategist Ethan Chumley, and Cloudflare Head of Public Policy Alissa Starzak talk about election security.

A year ago, the US federal government informed 21 states that their election systems had been targeted by criminal hackers before the 2016 presidential elections. Refusing to accept the undermining of American democracy, Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Chris Krebs and tech leaders Synack, Microsoft, and Cloudflare came together in Washington D.C. today through a “Security and Democracy” event convened by TheBridge. This event brought together private companies who are driving election security initiatives with the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the election threat landscape, the progress of public-private collaboration efforts to secure the election process, and the future outlook on local elections and election security.

Finally, there’s good news. In spite of media reports claiming increasing attempts to attack U.S. election systems, Krebs reassured the audience that we are not necessarily seeing an increase in threatening activity. Instead, our information sharing is improving which is driving more accurate and increased reporting of the threats. Krebs emphasized the importance of working with third-party vendors to help address threats and keep American democracy in tact, acknowledging the great strides already made by the private sector.

There is strength in teamwork. Technology leaders, including Synack, Microsoft, and Cloudflare, have stepped up to offer state, local, and federal government organizations security solutions - at no additional cost to government organizations - to augment public resources and help secure election processes before the 2018 November midterm elections and beyond. These companies stand under a shared belief that protecting democracy and improving cyber readiness takes collaboration between the private and the public sector.

Synack’s Secure the Election initiative is providing states free crowdsourced security tests, harnessing a crowd of highly vetted ethical hackers and AI-enabled platform to find and help fix vulnerabilities in online voter registration systems. Jay Kaplan, Synack CEO & Co-Founder and ex-National Security Agency (NSA) offensive operator, announced a renewal of their $550k pro bono election security commitment made this year, dedicating a total of >$1 million to their effort through 2020. “I feel personally connected to this mission,” remarked Jay Kaplan, CEO and Co-Founder. “We’re making a lot of progress towards election security, but there’s still a lot to do. We can’t just throw money at a problem. The federal government needs to provide guidance on where they should be spending money.” Federal agencies and enterprises are leveraging Synack’s crowdsourced security solution, harnessing a pool of highly skilled researchers and an AI-enabled platform, to scale their security testing and get new insights. States are now beginning to follow suit.

Cloudflare’s election security initiative, the Athenian Project, is protecting state and local election websites by offering its Enterprise-level DDoS mitigation, web application firewall, site access management, and load balancing services to election websites, for free. Microsoft is working with government entities to provide protection to US citizens on election day as well as threat and attack detection and notification services for Office 365 and Hotmail accounts through AccountGuard.

Allie Brandenburger, Co-founder & CEO of TheBridge and hostess of the event, described the importance of companies coming together; she described how “collaboration between the public and private sector is crucial to improving our election security. Conversations like today not only raise awareness and improve education, but they also bring key stakeholders with diverse viewpoints within tech, policy, and politics, together."

“Everyone has a responsibility,” Chris Krebs shared with the crowd, in light of the “consistent and persistent level” of threats to United States election security including hack and leak operations against candidates, continued social media issues, and standard information operations. Chris Krebs and tech leaders agreed that public-private collaboration on election security cannot stop here. “We will stop hammering the basics when we get the basics right,” he said.

About Synack
Synack, the leader in crowdsourced security testing, provides real security to the modern enterprise. Organizations who choose Synack don’t have to compromise on effectiveness, efficiency, or control when they activate the crowd. By leveraging the world’s most trusted ethical hackers and an industry-leading platform, Synack finds and helps fix critical security issues before criminals can exploit them. Headquartered in Silicon Valley with regional offices around the world, Synack has protected over 100 global organizations by reducing companies’ security risk and increasing their resistance to cyber attack.

About TheBridge
TheBridge is a community sitting at the intersection of tech, policy and politics. We’re increasing communication and collaboration between innovation and regulation, and growing a network of the influencers shaping the future of these industries. Sign up and learn more at TheBridgework.com.

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Ellie McCardwell
Synack
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