Members of the public queue to cast their votes at Cheptarit Primary School Polling Station in Nandi County. PHOTO | FILEMembers of the public queue to cast their votes at Cheptarit Primary School Polling Station in Nandi County. PHOTO | FILE
By KENFREY KIBERENGE

Google and 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 organizations, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites from online threats.

Work by such organizations is critical before and during elections.

Africa Uncensored, which is owned by investigative journalist John-Allan Namu and Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) that was at the centre for the 2013 presidential petition, were some of the sites that been 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.

SECURITY CHALLENGES

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

The technology in, among other things, thwarting online censorship, mitigating the 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 organizations 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 organizer.

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.

EXTRA LAYER OF DEFENSE

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 vitual 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 organizations, human rights groups and election monitoring sites from digital attacks during the election period.”