With 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 Microsoft offers to people and organizations at higher risk of being targeted by hackers. Typically that has meant politicians, but near the start of the pandemic, the company made the tool available to healthcare workers and humanitarian organizations at no cost. In practice, the service provides notifications from Microsoft when the company detects an attack and guidance on how to stop it.
As part of today’s expansion, Microsoft is making the service’s enterprise-grade identity and access management features available to all AccountGuard members in ’31’ democracies at no additional cost. Some of those more advanced features include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on service. The company trialed a similar expansion ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, providing political campaigns and parties access to those features. Microsoft also plans to provide up to 25,000 YubiKeys to AccountGuard customers. Depending on the size of the organization, the company will have multiple free keys on offer.
The expansion is timely for a couple of 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 also was only last year that Russian state-sponsored hackers pulled off the SolarWinds attack. The US government is still sorting through all the damage left by the hack, and even Microsoft wasn’t left unscathed.