With the upcoming national elections in five European countries, Microsoft is making some of the more advanced features of its AccountGuard service available to additional groups and individuals at no additional cost. AccountGuard is a program that Microsoft offers to people and organizations at higher risk of being targeted by hackers. Usually this involved politicians, but towards the start of the pandemic the company made the tool available free health workers and humanitarian organizations. In practice, the service provides notifications from Microsoft when the company detects an attack and advice on how to stop it.
Within the framework of today’s expansion, Microsoft is making the service’s enterprise-level identity and access management capabilities available to all AccountGuard members by Democracies ’31’ no additional cost. Some of these more advanced features include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on service. The company tested a similar expansion ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, allowing political campaigns and parties to access these features. Microsoft also plans to provide up to 25,000 YubiKeys to AccountGuard customers. Depending on the size of the organization, the company will offer several free keys.
The expansion is timely for several reasons. With national elections coming up in the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic, Microsoft hopes to protect them from disinformation campaigns. It was also only last year that Russian state sponsored hackers successful SolarWinds attack. The US government is still sorting out all the damage caused by hacking, and even Microsoft was not spared.