Facebook Teams Up With Harvard To Fight Election Hacking

Edward Summers July 27, 2017
Facebook Teams Up With Harvard To Fight Election Hacking

Facebook announced on Wednesday it will help Harvard fight election hacking, providing initial funding of $500,000 for a non-profit organization that aims to help protect political parties, voting systems and information providers from hackers and propaganda attacks.

The project, called Defending Digital Democracy is led by the former campaign chairs for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney and targets, which was launched a week ago by the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard to resist interference from outside in elections.

Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos announced the company's backing at the opening of the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The event, named after the term for malicious hackers, is aimed mostly at corporate and government security professionals.

Stamos said the tech giant hopes that the initiative to fend off attacks from hackers will be joined by others as well.

"Right now we are the founding sponsor, but we are in discussions with other tech organizations," Stamos said."The goal for our money specifically is to help build a standalone ISAO (Information Sharing and Analysis Organization) that pulls in all the different groups that have some kind of vulnerability."

Stamos declined to say how much money the Facebook would spend.

Facebook said it hoped additional participants would turn it into a freestanding information-sharing center controlled by its members. Facebook, with two billion monthly users, bills itself as a vehicle for political debate and education but was also used as a major platform to spread fake news and propaganda during the U.S. election campaign in 2016.

The project will be managed by Eric Rosenbach, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense who is co-director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

"Most campaigns don't have the tools right now to defend themselves from cyber attacks," Clinton campaign chair Robby Mook said in an email. "Our initiative aims to fill that void and to help both Democratic and Republican campaigns defend themselves with greater information-sharing and security tools."

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Edward Summers


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