Microsoft announced today that they will be providing free extended security updates for Windows 7 machines that are part of a federally certified voting system.
With the Windows 7 end of support quickly approaching on January 14th, 2020, some voting systems that will be used for the 2020 elections continue to run on Windows 7.
As foreign state sponsored actors targeted the 2016 elections and continued to target the 2018 midterm elections, there are obvious concerns that the 2020 elections in the USA and in other democratic countries will be under attack.
In order to protect these systems from having vulnerabilities exploited and other security issues, as part of their Defending Democracy initiative Microsoft will provide free extended security updates for Windows 7 machines that are part of a federally certified voting system.
“As we head into the 2020 elections, we know there is a relatively small but still significant number of certified voting machines in operation running on Windows 7. We also know that transitioning to machines running newer operating systems in time for the 2020 election may not be possible for a number of reasons, including the lengthy voting machine certification process – a process we are working with government officials to update and make more agile.”
Microsoft will not only provide this to the USA 2020 elections, but also to other democratic countries that have elections in 2020 and reach out to Microsoft to say they are interested.
“As a next step in protecting the 2020 elections, the Defending Democracy Program will make extended security updates available for free to federally certified voting systems running Windows 7. We will do this through the end of 2020, both in the United States and in other democratic countries, as defined by the EIU Democracy Index, that have national elections in 2020 and express interest. We are also working with major manufacturers that have sold voting machines running Windows 7 to ensure any security updates provided to these systems are successful.”
While Microsoft recommends that any Windows machines running voting systems upgrade to newer and supported operating systems, for those that are unable to do so and want to take part in this program they can contact the Defending Democracy Team at Protect2020@microsoft.com.