Election data is vulnerable. Microsoft’s open source software aims to fix that

blockchain beyond bitcoin voters cast their ballots on election da
Voters cast their ballots on Election Day November 04, 2008. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft is branching out in an intriguing direction with a pair of new software platforms designed specifically around improving the security of democratic elections. A new software kit will help developers create new, more secure, and more accessible electronic voting systems, while Microsoft 365 for Campaigns will enhance the operations of political parties and organizations on the campaign trail.

Election meddling and the lax security that makes it possible have been major topics of discussion in the years following the 2016 presidential election. Big ideas like Blockchain-backed voting offer one method of potentially securing elections, but Microsoft has been at the forefront of protective technological methods for some time already. In the 2018 mid-terms it reportedly helped prevent Russian meddling through nefarious phishing URLs. As we approach the campaign cycle for the next presidential elections, Microsoft is looking to leverage even greater protective measures.

“We believe technology can play a critical role in securing elections and that technology companies have a responsibility to support them,” Microsoft said in a statement. “Today Microsoft is announcing two new solutions aimed at addressing the security of voting systems around the world.”

The first of those two solutions is ElectionGuard. The free, open source software development kit (SDK) combines guidance for campaign and election organizers, as well as tools to help build better voting machines and systems. The software platform is publicly verifiable and will be freely available on GitHub starting this summer. Microsoft has already partnered with a number of technology providers to test out the SDK ahead of future elections.

The second is Microsoft 365 for Campaigns. Set to be available in June this year, it will provide new, high-end capabilities for Microsoft 365 Business users specifically designed with political parties and political campaigns in mind. The features will initially be offered to federal offices in the United States, but will be rolled out to a wider user base in the future.

Building on top of Microsoft’s existing AccountGuard threat-detection program, the new Microsoft 365 service will simplify security for political organizations and give them specialized instructions and setup wizards to make sure that they retain strict security on all of their important data and connected systems.

If you run a political or campaign party, you can learn more or sign up your interest in the service at the official campaign page.

Smart Home

Best deals on Amazon Echo and Google Home Nest devices for Father’s Day

You can save money on a wide range of devices for Amazon Echo and Google Home Nest smart homes for Father's Day. Here are the best discounts on smart speakers, smart displays, video doorbells, and smart outdoor security cameras.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

May may be coming to an end, but the bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling…
Home Theater

How to update the Kodi media center on all of your devices

Keeping Kodi updated with the latest version is important for accessing new features and improved security. But it's not always an automatic process. We'll walk you through the right way to update Kodi on all of your devices.

Amazon drops up to $50 off Ring video doorbells for its Father’s Day sale

Ring makes some of our favorite smart video doorbells, and Amazon has some nice discounts on a handful of its top-rated devices ahead of Father's Day. If you're after a last-minute gift for a security-conscious dad, check these out.

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.

AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019

AMD's Threadripper may be set to deliver the killing blow to Intel in Q4 2019, with a rumor suggesting a new Zen 2-based Threadripper line is coming down the pipe with a top chip that has as many as 64 cores.

If you need your laptop to be large, these ones are most in charge

Whether you're in the market for a mobile workstation or a gaming behemoth, there's probably something in the 15-inch form factor that can fit the bill. Here, we've rounded up the best 15-inch laptops available.

Need more pixels? These 4K laptops have the eye-popping visuals you crave

If you're looking for the best 4K laptops, you need to find one that has powerful internal hardware, and doesn't scrimp on weight and battery life. All of these 4K notebooks are great options, but which one is the right one for you?

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Leaked date and what you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a month away, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.