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US House Bans Microsoft Copilot – Deemed Too Risky In Run-Up To Congressional Elections

Published April 1, 2024 2:28 PM
James Morales
Published April 1, 2024 2:28 PM

Key Takeaways

  • The House of Representatives Cybersecurity Office has banned staffers from using Microsoft Copilot.
  • Microsoft says it is working on a more secure version of the chatbot for government use.
  • Ahead of November’s elections, government agencies are beefing up cybersecurity measures.

In the run-up to November’s US elections, government officials up and down the country are beefing up cybersecurity measures, implementing new protocols designed to protect the integrity of the vote. 

These efforts go all the way to the top of government, where the House of Representatives Office of Cybersecurity recently issued guidance on the use of Microsoft Copilot, prohibiting staffers from using the AI chatbot on their official devices. 

House Guidance Prohibits Copilot

In the recently issued guidance, the Office of Cybersecurity deemed Copilot to be “a risk to users due to the threat of leaking House data to non-House approved cloud services.”

Due to the sensitive nature of some of the files stored by Federal officials, which can include classified documents, cloud providers have developed dedicated services for governments.

For example, Azure, which powers Copilot, has dedicated options  for US government users. Currently, however, House officials have deemed the AI platform insufficiently customized for Washington’s additional security needs.

But Microsoft has plans to change that.

Microsoft Launches New AI Services for Government

To meet the enhanced security and compliance requirements of government agencies, Microsoft offers services through Azure Government, which rolled out its first chatbot services  in February.

While the new options include GPT-4 via Azure OpenAI for Government, Copilot has not yet been adapted for Federal use.

However, following the Office of Cybersecurity’s latest decision, the firm has signaled  that a dedicated version of Copilot for government use could be on the horizon.

US Officials Vigilant Ahead of Elections

Between cyberattacks waged by foreign governments and AI-powered misinformation, US elections are increasingly threatened by malicious cyber actors.

In February, the state of Georgia temporarily suspended  its voter registration system in Fulton County following an attempted attack on the court filing system.

While there is no evidence that hackers planned to target electoral platforms, the State took the precautionary step to temporarily disable voter registration until the threat had been mitigated.

In light of such heightened security threats, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recently launched Protect 2024 , a new program to help states protect voting systems from hackers.

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