Cloudflare recruits state and local governments for free election site security program

After launching a free program to protect election systems last December, Cloudflare has an update on how things are going. The program, known as the Athenian Project, provides Cloudflare’s services for free to state and local government websites that administer elections, host voter registration or verification data or report election results.

Those services include the DDoS protection the company is best known for but also its Web Application Firewall service, IP reputation database and the ability to cut off web traffic from a particular country or IP address. Cloudflare also is offering how-to videos and other documentation to explain its protections to potential clients.

“In November, every state and district in the country will hold congressional elections. Election officials — and all of us — want to make sure that voter information remains secure and that websites stay online as voters seek out information on polling places and voting requirements, and anxiously refresh results pages on election night,” the company wrote in its blog.

Cloudflare’s July Athenian Project update shows that more state and local governments are getting on board with the suite of free election services. Though many declined to be named, that includes the San Francisco board of elections, South Carolina’s Pickens County, North Carolina’s State Board of Elections and the state governments in Hawaii, Idaho and Rhode Island.

The company notes that it has been in talks with election officials in 27 states out of 50 and Cloudflare’s protections have been implemented in 10 state election websites so far.

Over the last six months, an increasing number of security companies have begun offering their services for free or at a discount to state and local election authorities. Last month, Synack announced free penetration testing for voter registration sites and voter databases. In April, Centrify offered a free eight months’ worth of its identity management software to state and local election boards. Because elections are run by states with mostly opt-in federal assistance, interest in these programs is uneven. Still, more security is better than no security.

“To work as designed, citizens must trust the electoral system, its strength, integrity, and the people who protect it,” Cloudflare wrote in its blog update. “Cloudflare is proud to support local officials on the front lines of election security.”