Google to provide journos, entities protection vs cyberattacks ahead of 2022 polls

February 1, 2022 - 6:45 PM
Laptop with binary codes
Individual using a laptop. (Pixabay/Gerd Altmann)

A tech giant is inviting certain Philippine entities to apply for protection against online attacks as the 2022 national and local elections loom.

Google said that human rights organizations, elections monitoring groups, media organizations, as well as individual journalists, can apply to “Project Shield,” a free service created by the tech giant with Jigsaw.

Project Shield” aims to provide unlimited protection against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, a type of digital attack used to censor information by taking websites offline.

The initiative filters out malicious traffic using Google’s infrastructure and DDoS tools.

If a website of a news outlet is targeted by a DDoS attack, the tech giant’s servers will block the attacking traffic to keep its website up and running.

“Google’s Advanced Protection Program (APP) is designed to help protect policy makers, candidates, campaign teams, journalists, and activists from cyberattacks,” it said in a release.

“APP brings Google’s strongest security protections together into a holistic program that is constantly upgraded in response to emerging threats,” the tech giant added.

Google is offering to enroll policy makers, candidates, campaign teams, journalists and activists into APP for them to be protected against a variety of online threats.

These include protection from sophisticated phishing attacks, malware and other malicious downloads on Chrome and Android, as well as unauthorized access to their personal account data (such as Gmail, Drive or Photos).

Last year, alternative media sites received a string of cyberattacks after publishing in-depth stories, including an editorial on the fight against the Duterte-Marcos alliance and news analysis of people’s agenda for the 2022 elections.

Large newsgroups known for their critical reportage like ABS-CBN News and Rappler, as well as fact-checking news org VERA Files, reported that they also experienced DDoS attacks.

Senate also suffered similar attacks when its Blue Ribbon Committee was investigating the alleged anomalies in the government’s procurement of COVID-19 supplies and equipment.

Human rights watchdog Karapatan likewise experienced DDoS attacks “amid the online solidarity campaign #StopTheKillingsPH,” a campaign that condemns extrajudicial killings and other reported killings in the country.