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Facebook pledges money to help keep elections safe

27 July 2017

The things that we see every day that cause people harm generally aren't that technically hard", Stamos said in the opening keynote at the Black Hat conference here Tuesday. He noted that in the early years, the true impact of internet security wasn't well understood, but today that's no longer the case with security breaches making headlines on a regular basis. "We're only going to get better if we kill entire classes of bugs and lear how to build systems that fail gracefully", he said. "We don't fight the man anymore, we are the man, but we haven't changed how we view our responsibilities". The company said it is also funding scholarships aimed at increasing diversity within the information security industry.

He also claimed that the security industry has a tendency to focus on the mechanics of cyber security, such as patching and zero days, while ignoring less technical but more harmful behaviour like spam, doxxing and social media abuse.

"Unfortunately, the truth is our community is not yet living up to its potential", Stamos was quoted by Threatpost as saying.

"We're still focused on the sexy problems".

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Indeed, Stamos pointed to three key areas that the security industry needs to change.

He called out common industry expressions and attitudes like "PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair", which occupies a similar space to the ID10T error, as being counterproductive and argued that security professionals shouldn't expect users to automatically follow security best practises if they don't have the technical expertise to know better.

"The things that we see, that we come across every day, that cause people to lose control of their information are not that advanced", he said.

Less than a year after Mark Zuckerberg derided the idea that his social network might have any serious impact on the US election, Facebook announced that it will donate money to cybersecurity education efforts as well as a new project to ensure election security. He also used his time to explain what his company is doing to make the internet safer for everyone. Facebook has set aside a $1 million fund, which will be awarded to this year's best USENIX paper on defense research.

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"This room is full of $800 fully patched smartphones, but that's not how it is in the rest of the world", Stamos said.

Stamos also recognized the role that Facebook played in the recent USA election and in elections around the world.

The company headquartered in Menlo Park said it will provide initial funding of $500,000 for the project, called Defending Digital Democracy (DDD), launched a week ago by the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Xinhua reported. Stamos helped author a report, published in April, which described how "malicious actors" undermined civil discourse on the network using fake accounts. "We are thinking about how to help election campaigns help themselves and setup good IT infrastructure". "It's a critical moment", he said. "We have been asking people to pay attention to us and now they are", Stamos said.

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Facebook pledges money to help keep elections safe