Clinton, Romney campaign managers unite to fight election hacking

Facebook and Google are also onboard.

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Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The threat of hacks disrupting US elections is very real, and enough people are concerned that it's creating some strange bedfellows. Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center has launched Defending Digital Democracy, a bipartisan effort to offer technology, strategies and other tools that can protect against election-oriented cyberattacks. And when they say it's an across-the-aisle effort, they mean it. Campaign managers for former presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney will help lead the group, as will Facebook's security chief, Google's info security director and the co-founder of security firm CrowdStrike. The head of the group is Eric Rosenbach, who was Chief of Staff to recent Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

There are already a few early examples of potential solutions. The alliance will look at using blockchain technology to ensure the integrity of your vote, and wants to devise "playbooks" that campaigns and election overseers can use to beef up their security. Naturally, countering disinformation campaigns is important. The team even wants to explore methods for deterring cyberattacks in the first place, although that's only going to have a limited effect on some perpetrators.

There's no specific timetable for accomplishing these objectives, and there aren't any immediate partners. Any success will hinge on rallying support. Still, it's easy to see this getting some traction. The big names attached to DDD could help get its foot in the door, but there's also a basic reality in the US: there isn't a thorough, cohesive national strategy for protecting election infrastructure against cyberattacks. The group might not have all the answers, but it could establish a baseline level of security that makes it harder for hackers to run amok.

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