Soon tens of millions of Europeans will head to the polls to forged their ballots within the European Parliament elections, in addition to several key countrywide elections. We believe it’s essential that groups underpinning the democratic manner have to get right of entry to today’s cybersecurity safety as we’ve seen and preserve to peer efforts by using nation-states and others to persuade elections in democracies around the sector consisting of in Europe. Today we’re pronouncing the expansion of Microsoft AccountGuard to twelve new markets throughout Europe, offering complete threat detection and notification to eligible corporations at no additional price and a customized assist to comfy their structures.

Continued cyberattacks against European groups

We all noticed hacking and disinformation assaults at the French presidential election in 2017, and European leaders have recently warned that assaults will hold across Europe in 2019. At Microsoft, we’ve visible current activity targeting democratic establishments in Europe as a part of the work our Threat Intelligence Center (MSIC) and Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) perform every day to guard all of our customers.

These attacks aren’t limited to campaigns themselves however regularly expand to think tanks and non-profit organizations running on subjects associated with democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and which might be regularly in contact with authorities officers. For instance, Microsoft has currently detected attacks targeting employees of the German Council on Foreign Relations, The Aspen Institutes in Europe and The German Marshall Fund.

The attacks against those businesses, which we’re disclosing with their permission, targeted 104 bills belonging to organization employees placed in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Serbia. MSTIC continues to research the sources of those assaults, however, we’re confident that a lot of them originated from a set we name Strontium. The assaults happened among September and December 2018. We quick notified each of these organizations while we located they have been focused so they might take steps to at ease their systems, and we took a selection of technical measures to defend clients from those assaults.

Consistent with campaigns against comparable U.S.-based establishments, attackers in most instances create malicious URLs and spoofed electronic mail addresses that appearance valid. These spearphishing campaigns goal to gain get entry to employee credentials and supply malware.

The assaults we’ve visible these days, coupled with others we mentioned closing yr, propose an ongoing attempt to goal democratic organizations. They validate the warnings from European leaders approximately the danger stage we ought to assume to look in Europe this year.

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Expanding Microsoft AccountGuard presenting

We’re making Microsoft AccountGuard be had to start these days in twelve greater European markets: France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain. The service is already to be had inside the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and the UK – bringing the overall number of European international locations with getting admission to the carrier to fourteen. The markets for which we’re saying AccountGuard nowadays constitute places in which we’ve been capable of expediting the paintings needed to offer AccountGuard quick, and we plan to extend AccountGuard to additional markets in Europe in coming months.

Microsoft AccountGuard, which is part of our Defending Democracy Program, is the latest cybersecurity service available at no more fee to all political candidates, events, and campaign workplaces working at a local or countrywide stage. It is also available to think tanks, non-profits, and nongovernmental companies operating on issues related to democracy and electoral integrity. Microsoft AccountGuard is obtainable loose-of-fee to agencies the use of Office 365.

The service provides notification of cyber threats, including attacks via recognized nation-state actors, throughout both email systems run through businesses and the non-public debts of those agencies’ leaders and body of workers. Eligible corporations can invite decided on personnel and other pals to enroll, and notification will only arise with the consent of the account owner. Organizations can get protection for outside individuals supporting with a campaign, board contributors of non-earnings agencies, or volunteers. When we discover threats, we are able to paintings at once with collaborating businesses to inform them and help them secure their systems.

AccountGuard also presents covered corporations steerage to help make their networks and email systems extra relaxed. This can encompass applying multi-element authentication, putting in the today’s safety updates, and steerage for putting in structures that ensure most effective the ones folks that want records and files can get right of entry to them. AccountGuard also gives briefings and education to deal with evolving cyberattack traits, in addition, to preview releases of new protection capabilities on a par with the services presented to our massive corporate and authorities account customers.

To sign in for the carrier or to examine extra, click on right here. You can locate more data approximately Microsoft AccountGuard in my preceding weblog submit. While AccountGuard is present to be had for the marketing campaign accounts of elected officials, we are hoping in the near future to offer it for authorities-run bills, like reputable bills of the European Parliament.

Protecting the birthplace of democracy

Europe is regarded because of the ‘birthplace of democracy’. It was right here that the standards of representative democracy had been laid down – standards that have considering been replicated across the globe. However, as the continuing assaults exhibit, this idea is increasingly more beneath chance.

We believe the work of organizations like The German Marshall Fund and its Alliance for Securing Democracy is an crucial part of efforts to cozy democracies against those who seek to undermine it. Many corporations crucial to democracy do not have the resources or knowledge to defend themselves towards cyber attacks. That is why we agree that technology vendors have a responsibility to help. Microsoft AccountGuard offers extra security features tailored to how these businesses perform. However, we recognize that we can’t solve this problem on my own. That is why we are dedicated to continuing running with the neighborhood, national, and regional authorities in addition to our industry peers to help defend democratic strategies.

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