Increasing election security monitoring in cloud computing

a person at a voting booth

Today, we have an exciting announcement we believe will help increase election security while enabling election officials to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of cloud computing.

For years, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and state and local governments throughout the United States have worked with the non-profit Center for Internet Security, Inc. (CIS) to monitor the security of election-related data. This is enabled by Albert Network Monitoring, which examines internet traffic and connection attempts on networks owned and run by election officials – including voter registration systems, voter information portals and back-office networks.

Albert provides network security alerts for both basic and advanced network threats, helping organizations identify malicious activity such as attempted intrusions by foreign adversaries or cybercriminals. Data from these sensors is sent in near-real-time to the CIS Security Operations Center, which is monitored around the clock every day by expert cybersecurity analysts.

To date, cloud computing providers, such as Microsoft Azure, have not been compatible with Albert sensors. This presented election officials with the difficult choice of selecting powerful, secure and cost-effective cloud computing options, or hosting the data on local servers if they wanted to take advantage of the added security of Albert. Today, through a partnership with CIS, we’re providing a new choice by making Microsoft Azure compatible with Albert for the first time.

We’re starting this journey through a pilot, which will begin this week, with 14 county Supervisors of Elections in Florida. Moving forward, Microsoft and CIS will look to open the capability to states and jurisdictions across the United States.

Today’s announcement is the result of collaborative work between Microsoft’s Azure Global engineering team and CIS’s engineering team, in partnership with Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program. In the coming months, we look forward to sharing more details about our work to help secure the 2020 elections and future elections in the U.S. and around the world.

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