US House Bans Risky Microsoft Copilot Before Congressional Elections

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Before the US elections in November, government officials nationwide are enhancing cybersecurity measures to safeguard the vote’s integrity.

At the highest level, the House of Representatives Office of Cybersecurity has prohibited staffers from using Microsoft Copilot, an AI chatbot, on their official devices.


Microsoft Copilot Deemed Risky by House Office of Cybersecurity

In recently issued guidance, the Office of Cybersecurity declared Microsoft Copilot as risky due to the potential threat of leaking House data to non-approved cloud services. This decision is based on concerns about protecting sensitive House files, which may include classified documents, from unauthorized access.

Cloud providers like Azure, which powers Copilot, have developed dedicated services for government users to address security needs. However, House officials have determined that the current configuration of Copilot does not meet Washington’s additional security requirements.

Despite the current limitations, Microsoft has expressed plans to enhance Copilot to better meet the security needs of government users, including those in Washington.

Microsoft’s Efforts to Enhance Security for Government Agencies

To address the enhanced security and compliance needs of government agencies, Microsoft introduced services through Azure Government. These services, which include chatbot capabilities, were first rolled out in February. Notably, options such as GPT-4 via Azure OpenAI for Government are available, catering to government-specific requirements.

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Despite the availability of advanced chatbot services, Copilot has not yet been adapted for Federal use. However, Microsoft has indicated a willingness to develop a dedicated version of Copilot tailored to government needs, particularly in response to the recent decision by the Office of Cybersecurity. This suggests that a government-specific version of Copilot may be on the horizon.

Addressing Cybersecurity Threats to US Elections

With foreign governments and AI-powered misinformation posing increasing threats, US elections are vulnerable to malicious cyber actors. In February, Georgia’s state government temporarily suspended its voter registration system in Fulton County following an attempted cyberattack on the court filing system. Although there is no evidence indicating a planned attack on electoral platforms, the state took precautionary measures by disabling voter registration until the threat was neutralized.

To address these heightened security threats, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently launched Protect 2024. This new program aims to assist states in safeguarding their voting systems from potential cyberattacks and ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.


Important: Please note that this article is only meant to provide information and should not be taken as legal, tax, investment, financial, or any other type of advice.

 

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