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On Guard Against Cyberthreats

Cloudflare makes its web security and reliability services free to organizations that serve vital public interests.



Cloudflare, one of the world’s leading web security, edge computing, and content delivery network providers, helps organizations make sure everything they do that is connected to the internet is fast, secure, and reliable. In addition to working with corporate clients, which range from small and medium businesses to Fortune 1000s, the firm has a mission to serve the public good. Through two key initiatives—Athenian Project and Project Galileo—the firm is making its capabilities available, free of charge, to government officials who administer election websites and to nonprofit organizations that are doing vital work to support communities.

Keeping Information on Elections Secure and Reliable

Through its Athenian Project, Cloudflare is striving to empower the people who safeguard U.S. election websites. The firm provides its enterprise-level service to state and local governments to help them effectively manage the websites they use to administer elections.

As Cloudflare Co-Founder and CEO Matthew Prince explains, the goal of Athenian Project is to “help ensure the political process has integrity and that people can trust it and rely on it.”

The initiative works to protect voter information sites, safeguard them against cyberthreats, and accurately preserve voter registration and tabulation data. These sites have increasingly come under attack from malicious actors. In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed 21 states that their voter registration files or public election websites had been the target of cyberattacks.

Election websites deliver critical information. They provide the public with details on where to vote, how to vote, who is running for office, and what measures are on a ballot. Government officials often have small budgets and limited resources to fend off attacks and keep their sites online.

Athenian Project is designed to provide state and local governments with the highest level of protection and reliability so that constituents can access accurate and secure election information and voter registration details.

Cloudflare’s services can protect a state or local government’s website from any cybercriminals who might try to make a site unavailable or hack it to spread false information about how to vote or what measures are on the ballot. The company also provides government officials access to its in-depth platform analytics to track the performance, availability, and security of their election websites.

The company’s network and capabilities can also prevent denial of service attacks and data theft, provide protection against malicious bots, and help ensure a website remains available through an entire election cycle.

In an era when election integrity has become a source of public debate, Cloudflare is making an important contribution to ensure that voters have the accurate information they need to make informed decisions.

Helping Public Interest Groups Stay Online

In 2014, Cloudflare established Project Galileo to respond to the rise in cyberattacks against journalists, social activists, and minority interest groups. These groups have been flooded with malicious traffic designed to knock them offline and keep them there.

The company’s goal is to help ensure free expression online for these vulnerable groups. Any public interest group can apply for support from Project Galileo. Some of the organizations it supports include:

  • BullyingCanada, the first youth-created anti-bullying charity in Canada, which has become recognized as a world leader. It provides direct services to youths and their families to help them resolve bullying situations.
  • The Global Medical Relief Fund, which aids children who are missing or have lost the use of limbs or eyes, have been severely burned, or have been injured due to war, natural disasters, or illness.
  • Majal, which is dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices and promoting social justice, originally in the Middle East and North Africa, but now across the globe. Its network of websites offers outlets for self-expression in regions where oppression, censorship, and marginalization are prevalent.
  • Musopen, which focuses on improving access and exposure to music by providing recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restriction.
  • Sarawak Report, a publishing platform covering issues such as land grabs, corruption, and cronyism in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, across Malaysia, and beyond.

Partners Help Select the Causes Worthy of Support

Cloudflare understands its business focuses on internet security and performance and that it does not have expertise on geopolitical and human rights issues. It partners with free speech, public interest, and civil society organizations that can help it identify the at-risk websites that are worthy of its pro bono efforts provided through Project Galileo.

Among its many partners are Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, PEN America, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and Civil Rights Defenders. Working with these partners helps the firm ensure that it does not bring its personal and corporate biases to the decisions about who should receive this valuable support.

Community Service That Provides Practical Rewards, Too

Cloudflare can provide these valuable community services without a significant hit to profitability because its network features very low marginal costs to service the incremental customer. As a result, the social benefit provided by initiatives like Athenian Project or Project Galileo meaningfully outweighs the incremental costs to Cloudflare of providing these services.

Cloudflare also benefits from the intelligence it can gather by seeing attempted attacks against a wider variety of organizations. Cloudflare already benefits from having many of the cryptocurrency exchanges as customers. In a digital-world update to that old line about why robbers go to banks, these exchanges are “where the money is,” and for that reason, they are frequently under attack. Seeing how these diverse organizations become targets for cybercriminals enables Cloudflare to enhance the protection it offers to all its clients.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Sands Capital six investment criteria tend to lead us to businesses that are innovators or vital facilitators of change in industries undergoing significant transformation. Cloudflare is one of many portfolio businesses that create impact by addressing at least one major social or environmental challenge identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through Athenian Project, Cloudflare supports SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. The firm’s Project Galileo also addresses SDG 16, and the recipients of the firm’s support are working to achieve a broad range of these SDGs, including SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being; SDG 4, Quality Education; SDG 5, Gender Equality; and SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities.


The business profiled was selected based on its reported alignment with one or more U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The views expressed are the opinion of Sands Capital Management and are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The views expressed were current as of the date indicated and are subject to change. This material may contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside Sands Capital’s control. Readers should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that Sands Capital will meet its stated goals. Past performance is not indicative of future results. A company’s fundamentals or earnings growth is no guarantee that its share price will increase. The specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. There is no assurance that any security will continue to be owned by Sands Capital Management. You should not assume that any investment is or will be profitable. GIPS® Reports and additional disclosures for the related composites may be found in the Sands Capital GIPS Report. PT# 20210247

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