Corporate

Google unveils free tools to safeguard Kenya elections

Google Kenya Country Manager Charles Murito.
Google Kenya Country Manager Charles Murito. Google and Jigsaw have unveiled a suite of free tools that will help guard against digital attacks during the election period in Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Google and technology incubator platform Jigsaw have unveiled a suite of free tools that will help guard against digital attacks during the election period in Kenya.

Dubbed “Protect Your Election”, the tools are designed to help safeguard news organisations, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites from online threats.

Work by such organisations is critical before and during elections.

Africa Uncensored -- owned by investigative journalist John-Allan Namu -- and Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) are some of the sites that were famously defaced.

The threats include DDoS (denial-of-service) attacks, phishing and attempts to break into people’s private accounts.

Google is an American tech giant whose innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day.

Global security

Jigsaw is an incubator within Alphabet that builds technology to tackle some of the toughest global security challenges.

The technology helps in, among other things, thwarting online censorship, mitigating threats from digital attacks, countering violent extremism and protecting people from online harassment.

One of those tools unveiled on Tuesday is Project Shield, which provides free DDoS protection to news sites, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites.

“It is important to provide free protection to these organisations in particular, as they are the groups that provide voters with information they need to make informed decisions. The site is in both English and Swahili,” said an organiser.

The new suite also offers digital defences for individuals, including Password Alert — a Chrome extension that helps protect against phishing attacks by alerting you if a website is trying to steal your Google password.
Verification

Another tool offered by Protect Your Election is 2-Step Verification, which provides an extra layer of defense to keep your account secure.

The suit also includes uProxy, a virtual private network (VPN) that will be available for organisations as opposed to individuals.

This would come in handy should the State decide to censor social media.

About 125,000 DDoS attacks happen every week and tens of millions of phishing attempts are recorded every few months.

DDoS attacks have often targeted investigative journalists and election monitoring groups in various countries.

During the last few years, there has been a rise in digital attacks targeting government, political party websites, press and journalists around the world.

Commenting on the suite, Google Kenya Country Manager Charles Murito said: “Everyone has a right to a full and credible story. The free Google tools are designed to safeguard publishers, news organisations, human rights groups and election monitoring sites from digital attacks during the election period.”