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Microsoft Warns of China’s AI-Driven Election Interference Campaign

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Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Team has issued a cautionary alert regarding China’s increasing deployment of AI to disrupt elections worldwide. Allegedly, several Chinese state-sponsored cybercriminal hackers are gearing up to exploit AI tactics to interfere with the 2024 electoral processes in the US, India, and South Korea. According to Microsoft, North Korea is also implicated in this scheme, which spans various platforms including social media.

The tactics reportedly involve the use of fabricated social media profiles to gauge voter sentiments on divisive issues, potentially influencing the outcome of the US presidential election in favor of China’s preferences. Moreover, China is purportedly intensifying its utilization of AI-generated content to advance its objectives globally.

Microsoft further elaborated that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) supports these cybercriminal groups, which have recently endeavored to sow discord among Americans on numerous contentious topics, such as suspicions surrounding the Kentucky train incident in November 2023 and alleged US involvement in poisoning foreign water supplies. Despite these efforts, Microsoft asserts there’s scant evidence of their effectiveness in swaying public opinion.

While governments have long exploited technology to shape public perception, the advent of AI poses heightened risks of disseminating misinformation. With AI’s capability to fabricate convincing imagery, videos, and other content, governments and affiliated cybercriminal entities can potentially target larger audiences with increasingly believable narratives.

Regarding North Korea’s involvement, Microsoft suggests its focus isn’t solely on election interference but also on revenue generation, primarily through cryptocurrency theft and supply chain software attacks. Notably, North Korean cyber actors are purported to have pilfered over $3 billion in cryptocurrency since 2017, with substantial heists occurring in 2023 alone.

Looking ahead, Microsoft acknowledges the current low likelihood of China significantly impacting global elections but warns of the potential for future escalation. Despite the limited immediate impact, Microsoft anticipates China will persist in experimenting with AI-augmented content, including memes, videos, and audio, which could potentially wield greater efficacy over time.

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