GMF Statement on 2018 Cyber Attacks

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Microsoft announced today that the German Marshall Fund was among several organizations with operations in Europe targeted by a

Microsoft announced today that the German Marshall Fund was among several organizations with operations in Europe targeted by a wave of cyber attacks in late 2018, following attacks on similar organizations in the United States. These attacks came as no surprise – everything we do as an organization, from our policy research to our work strengthening civil society, is dedicated to advancing and protecting democratic values. The announcement serves as a reminder that the assault on these values is real and relentless.

With European parliamentary elections this spring and American presidential elections next year, it is more important than ever that we be vigilant to protect our democracies from foreign interference, including online. As Microsoft’s announcement reinforces, the risk is not just for candidates and campaigns. Organizations and individuals need to be aware and prepared that malign forces, including sophisticated state actors, seek to exploit them in the digital space. 

GMF is committed to safeguarding democracy in the digital age. Our Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) develops comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions. ASD has shed light on evolving online threats and advised policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic in acting to address them. On February 27, we will officially launch our Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative. Based on the premise that technology and innovation can support, rather than undermine, democratic societies, the program will leverage GMF’s extensive networks to develop strategies that advance innovation and strengthen democratic values.  We are proud of the work that these programs and others across GMF are doing to strengthen our democracies and counter nefarious forces like those that carried out these cyberattacks.

GMF is constantly reviewing and updating our protocols for a changing cybersecurity environment. We will continue to make the safety of staff and partners our highest priority, working with partners like Microsoft to identify and mitigate any security challenges that emerge. Today’s announcement underscores the relevance of our work in addressing the threats facing transatlantic democracies, and only strengthens our resolve to carry out the work of our programs and offices in both the United States and Europe.