Facebook works with Harvard against hackers targeting US elections

By , on July 26, 2017


Facebook Inc., an online social media and social networking service, said Wednesday it will work with a Harvard University project against hackers who target elections in the United States. (Photo by Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Facebook Inc., an online social media and social networking service, said Wednesday it will work with a Harvard University project against hackers who target elections in the United States. (Photo by Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

SAN FRANCISCO, June 27 — Facebook Inc., an online social media and social networking service, said Wednesday it will work with a Harvard University project against hackers who target elections in the United States.

The company headquartered in Menlo Park, Northern California, said it will provide initial funding of 500,000 US dollars for the project, called Defending Digital Democracy (DDD), launched a week ago by the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

At the time, the Belfer Center said the project will include Facebook and Google to “identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks.” Facebook made its move Wednesday during Black Hat, an annual security event held in Las Vegas.

The project will be co-led by Robby Mook, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, and Matt Rhoades, Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager. “By creating a unique and bipartisan team comprised of top-notch political operatives and leaders in the cyber and national security world, DDD intends to offer concrete solutions to an urgent problem,” the center stated in a news release.

“Americans across the political spectrum agree that political contests should be decided by the power of ideas, not the skill of foreign hackers,” Eric Rosenbach, Co-Director of the Belfer Center and former assistant secretary of defense, was quoted as saying. “Cyber deterrence starts with strong cyber defense – and this project brings together key partners in politics, national security, and technology to generate innovative ideas to safeguard our key democratic institutions.”

The project aims to develop solutions to share threat information with technology providers, governments and political organizations; provide election administrators, election infrastructure providers, and campaign organizations with “playbooks” to improve their cybersecurity; assess emerging technologies that may improve the integrity of systems and processes vital to elections; and convene civic, technology, and media leaders to develop best practices that can shield public discourse from “adversarial information operations.”

The efforts are based on the assumption, according to the center, that foreign nations and non-state actors are not backing down in their efforts to hack, alter the outcome and undermine confidence in US elections.