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Cloudflare Vows to Shield Political Campaigns from Cyber Attacks

Cloudflare has debuted a new, free security package of tools and services specifically for U.S. political campaigns, adding to its existing no-cost programs to protect government entities and humanitarian and free speech groups from cyber attackers.

The network security provider said its Cloudflare for Campaigns will arm political campaigns to battle cyber attackers delivering malicious blows such as distributed denial-of-service. Its cyber resources are supplemented by a raft of website services, including load balancing, firewalls, anti-bot safeguards and multi-user account management. The suite isn’t confined just to well resourced campaigns, Cloudflare said.

There’s a business-centric edition as well, and along with the overall package comes a best practices guide. An additional service called Cloudflare Access will enable campaigns to secure, authenticate, and monitor user access to any domain, application, or path on Cloudflare, without using a VPN, the company said.

Cloudflare’s heightened socio/political push (alongside a handful of other similarly-engaged security companies) to deliver cybersecurity tools and services to vulnerable government and political entities is needed now more than ever, particularly with the 2020 federal and state elections only 10 months away, the vendor said in a blog post.

“Political parties and candidates for office all over the world are also frequent targets for cyberattack,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the program. “Cybersecurity needs for campaign websites and internal tools are at an all time high. Although Cloudflare has helped improve the security and performance of political parties and candidates for office all over the world for years, we’ve long felt that we could do more.”

So far, in the 2020 U.S. election cycle Cloudflare has provided cybersecurity services to 18 major presidential campaigns and a number of congressional campaigns. On a typical day, its technology blocks 400,000 attacks against political campaigns, and, on a busy day, it blunts 40 million such forays, the company said.

With this particular initiative, Cloudflare’s delivery mechanism is a collaboration with Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC), an organization approved by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) last May to partner with technology companies to provide free and discounted cybersecurity services under certain circumstances, such as foreign intervention in U.S. elections.

To receive free services under DDC, political campaigns must meet the following criteria:

  • A House candidate’s committee that has at least $50,000 in receipts for the current election cycle, and a Senate candidate’s committee that has at least $100,000 in receipts for the current election cycle.
  • A House or Senate candidate’s committee for candidates who have qualified for the general election ballot in their respective elections, or any presidential candidate’s committee whose candidate is polling above five percent in national polls.

“Political campaigns, like any organization, need a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. Securing a candidate’s website, their critical public facing presence, and hardening access to key internal applications can vastly improve cybersecurity,” Michael Kaiser, DDC president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Cloudflare said it will also offer Cloudflare for Campaigns as a paid service to address international regulatory hurdles.

Two years ago, Cloudflare took the wraps off the Athenian Project, a free service to supply U.S. state and local government entities with the tools needed to secure their election websites. And, in 2014, the company rolled out Project Galileo to protect free speech online. Alphabet’s Jigsaw launched a similar effort a year earlier with its Project Shield initiative.

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