A gift from Craigslist's founder Craig Newmark is funding the development of cybersecurity toolkits for journalists and elections offices ahead of the 2020 US elections. The toolkits, which will be developed by the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), are intended to "protect journalists and media outlets from cyber-attacks that are designed to either manipulate public opinion or expose sources, enable election boards or other bodies to leverage the latest in cybersecurity protections to preserve election integrity and help ensure that all votes are accurately recorded and counted, and secure nonprofit community organizations that work to uphold the right to vote," according to the announcement of the gift.
"Our country is under attack by some really bad actors and we need to help protect the people who keep our democracy safe. That includes journalists and that includes people who run our elections," says Newmark, founder of Craigslist and of Craig Newmark Philanthropies, which is providing a gift of $1.068 million to the GCA for developing toolkits. Asked why he sees journalists as worthy of the type of defense he's funding for election offices, Newmark says, "in high school US history I learned that a trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy. The press helps keeps us safe by telling us what's going on."
Philip Reitinger, president and CEO of the GCA says that his organization will be able to use expertise from developing the small business toolkit to develop separate toolkits for journalists, elections offices, and the NGOs that monitor elections. "We're going to use the same approach with regard to elections officials and media journalists but they'll be distinct things. The capabilities in our toolkit will be tailored for the particular audience," he says. "Our goal is to take the resources that Craig Newmark has given us, and customize and direct a set of unique capabilities for each of these audiences that will help them solve their problem."
Each toolkit will contain operational tools, clear guidance, and recommendations, and will be built following guidelines set out in the Center for Internet Security's (CIS) top Critical Controls. The toolkits will be available at no charge from the GCA.
"Americans need to work together to protect the country and among other things that means better support for journalists and better support for the people who make our elections run. This is serious," says Newmark.
"I think people have lost sight of the importance of media and journalists in the free exercise of the basic functioning of democracy," says Reitinger, "So I think it's really critical that we all work together to to move cybersecurity forward so we can have trustworthy elections."
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