To fight election meddling, Google’s cyber unit Jigsaw extends its anti-DDoS protections to European politicos

Jigsaw, the cybersecurity-focused division owned by Google parent Alphabet, is now allowing political organizations in Europe to sign up for its anti-web-flooding technology for free.

Until now, the free-to-use technology designed to protect political campaigns and websites against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks — dubbed Project Shield — was only available to news sites and journalists, human rights sites and elections monitoring sites in the U.S.

Now, Jigsaw is extending those protections to European political operators ahead of contentious parliamentary elections later this year.

The anti-DDoS technology aims to protect websites and services from being pummeled with tons of junk internet traffic from multiple sources at once. It protects against several types of DDoS attacks — and not just the traditional layer 3 or 4 protocol-based attacks but also the more powerful layer 7 attacks that involve large volume, often thanks to DNS amplification.

By caching a website, the technology absorbs a lot of the malicious traffic, and filtering harmful traffic keeps sites running.

Jigsaw’s move comes at a time when highly anticipated elections are expected to adjust political powers across the continent — particularly in what’s left of the European Union, after the controversial British departure from the EU, known as “Brexit.” Anti-political actors and nation-state hackers have long worked hard in Europe to disrupt elections and sow discord in an effort to discredit results.

Some have outright launched flooding attacks to down websites at a time when they’re most needed.

In the last year alone, several flooding attacks left critical websites downed for hours and longer. Election sites from Tennessee to the Czech Republic were downed in an effort to disrupt the voting process.

Project Shield said it’s offering the service for free to all European political organizations and campaigns, said Jigsaw’s Dan Keyserling in an email to TechCrunch. That’s in contrast to existing providers, like Cloudflare, that sell DDoS protection.

“The spread of DDoS attacks is a global issue,” said Keyserling. “Just scanning the news showed us it is a growing problem.”