Microsoft has announced the ElectionGuard software developer kit (SDK), along with a new tool within Microsoft 365 called CampaignGuard, at Build 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Both of these pieces of software will attempt to secure elections, and make it harder for malicious parties to tamper with them.
The ElectionGuard SDK will be distributed for free to voting system manufacturers and vendors, so that it can be easily integrated into either existing voting systems or used in the development of new ones. This SDK aims to increase security by implementing end-to-end verifiability and tools for easier security audits.
Microsoft's ElectionGuard will go a step further, too, making voting systems more accessible for everyone. This will include using the Xbox Adaptive Controller to make it easier for anyone to participate in elections at the polls. Accessibility features will also be baked into the software itself.
The SDK will arrive this summer, as a part of Microsoft's Defending Democracy Program, which aims to look for solutions to problems like cyber attacks, disinformation and transparency in ads.
This SDK arrives at a time when elections around the world are under increased scrutiny, and Microsoft isn't the only big tech company coming up with tools like this. Facebook, for instance, has made a big deal about fighting the proliferation of false information spread on its platform.
Another part of the Defending Democracy Program will now be CampaignGuard, a new tool within Microsoft 365, that will take the security capabilities of Microsoft 365 business, and tailor them to the threats that political election campaigns face.
Election campaigns are uniquely targeted by cyber attacks, so Microsoft 365 CampaignGuard will streamline security features so that they can quickly and efficiently counter any threats. This will be done primarily through a software wizard that campaigns can use to beef up security, without necessarily needing cyber security personnel on staff.
The way that CampaignGuard will actually fight these threats is through the AccountGuard threat-detection and attack notification systems that came out as part of Microsoft's initial Defending Democracy Program.
CampaignGuard will be out in June, and will initially be available for those running for federal office in the United States. Pricing information isn't available yet, but Microsoft says it will be available at a "low price." Interested campaigns can sign up by visiting the CampaignGuard sign up page.