Facebook and Harvard are partnering in an initiative aimed at protecting against hackers targeting US elections.
Alex Stamos, chief security officer at Facebook and advisor for the project, made the announcement at the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
The social media giant will reportedly provide initial funding of $500,000 to the project launched by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government last week.
Dubbed Defending Digital Democracy (DDD), the newly founded non-profit organization is led by former campaign chairs for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. Other advisors include leaders from tech companies such as Google and Crowdstrike.
“… the program aims to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks,” said the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School in a press release.
“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,” said the center.
Meanwhile, Stamos hopes Facebook’s contributions will encourage other tech companies to join the efforts of fending off such attacks.
“Right now, we are the founding sponsor, but we are in discussions with other tech organizations,” said Stamos.
“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,” he said.
Robby Mook, Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, further emphasized the need to bring together key partners in politics, security and technology.
“Over the last two years, nearly every election on both sides of the Atlantic has been affected by foreign cyber attacks, including Hillary Clinton’s in 2016,” stated Mook. “Many foreign countries, and even terrorist organizations, exploit digital technology to advance their agendas and influence public narratives abroad.”
“This project will find practical solutions to help both parties and civic institutions that are critical to our elections better secure themselves and become more resilient to attacks,” Mook added.