As Most Campaigns Use Gmail, Google Escalates Security

Google is improving its cybersecurity to protect midterm election candidates’ emails from phishing attacks. Out of the 1460 candidates running for governor, Senate, or the House of Representatives, 65% use Gmail for their campaigns, according to anti-phishing company Area1Security.

google-security-election
As Election Approaches, Gmail Updates Security

It’s not only campaign emails that are susceptible to cybersecurity attacks. As most people use their email addresses to create social media accounts, services like Twitter and Facebook are also at risk.

Russian hackers were a major topic in the 2016 election after successfully phishing John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair. Podesta clicked on a fraudulent email alerting him to change his password, allowing hackers to steal over 50,000 of his emails. Since then, Google has taken steps to protect particularly vulnerable people like campaign workers, activists, business leaders, and journalists. Moving forward, Google intends to upgrade its cybersecurity efforts across its entire suite of products.

Under Google’s new Advanced Protection Plan, individuals at high-risk of a phishing attack must use a physical key to login to their email. In addition, Google will only allow a select group of third-party apps to access users’ email accounts. Finally, if users get locked out of their accounts, they will be required to verify their identities in more detail during the account recovery process. Although the plan does create a more arduous process for the user, “…it never hurts to go to a higher form of security as long as you don’t lose your security key,” said Guemmy Kim, Google’s product manager for account security.

Google isn’t the only tech company upping its cybersecurity. Last April Microsoft, the email provider for 9.3% of candidates, created the Defending Democracy ProgramThe program established account safeguards for political organizations to protect accounts from hacking and defend against misinformation. Aside from improved cybersecurity, the program also aims to make political advertising more transparent and to protect the electoral process by working with law enforcement directly.

Additionally, Microsoft has partnered with top academic institutions and think tanks to oppose “state-sponsored computational propaganda and junk news,” according to their website. The program doesn’t only affect U.S political organizations, but all stakeholders in democracies internationally.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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