Posted by Martijn Grooten on Aug 21, 2018
An article at Cyberscoop lists security companies that are offering assistance to protect election systems, for example by protecting against DDoS attacks, performing penetration testing or providing anti-virus software, for free or at a significant discount.
The list, which isn't complete (for example Google also offers free DDoS protection for election systems), is topical given fears of foreign intervention in the upcoming US midterm elections. A new warning from Microsoft about efforts by the group variously known as APT28, Fancy Bear or Strontium, reminds us that this threat is very real.
But the list of security offerings also serves as a reminder that if you are doing good, whether it's educating children, providing humanitarian aid, or defending democracy around the world, security vendors are often very willing to help you by providing their services for free, or at least at a significant discount.
Part of the reason for this will, no doubt, be PR, and in some cases vendors will also be interested in getting telemetry: in particular those targeted by governments tend to see some very 'interesting' attacks. But a great many people working in security genuinely care about making this world a better place. Even when it comes to those companies that don't explicitly advertise such help, often all it takes is to ask.
None of the security offered by these vendors will be a replacement for having a good understanding of the often unique threat models these organizations deal with. But they can help raise the bar for an attacker significantly.
And if you work for such an organization and believe that attending the upcoming Virus Bulletin Conference would be helpful for your work (indeed, there are various relevant talks on the programme), please do not hesitate to contact me.