Russia resumes troll and bot attacks ahead of congressional elections – NYT

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Russia resumed troll and bot attacks ahead of congressional elections, — NYT

According to the analytical company Recorded Future, the Russian Federation is conducting an information operation in Western social networks to anger conservative voters. One of the posts claimed that the Americans “have no money for baby food and gas,” and Biden spends billions on Ukraine. Caricatures of President Zelensky are also published.

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The Russian Federation is conducting an information operation to influence the results of the US elections and, as a result, support for Ukraine. This is reported by The New York Times.

According to the cybersecurity group Recorded Future, accounts associated with a secret Russian agency that tried to influence the results of the US presidential elections in 2016 and 2020 became more active on the social network Gab, known for the activity of extremists and far-right.

Authors of publications denigrate President Biden and other prominent representatives of the Democratic Party. It is stated that it is inappropriate to use the funds of American taxpayers to support Ukraine in the war against the Russian Federation. These posts caricature Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, just like Russian propaganda media.

The researchers call it a new but more targeted attempt by Russia to sway American voters ahead of Tuesday's congressional primaries. The goal is still the same – to provoke the wrath of the conservative electorate and undermine the credibility of the American electoral system. This time, Russia is also trying to get the US to stop massive military support for Ukraine.

“They are definitely trying to stop the aid and funding that Ukraine is getting,” said Alex Plitsas, a former military officer and Pentagon official who now works for technology company Providence Consulting Group.

This information operation is specifically designed to win favor with voters in states where there is the most competition for seats in the Senate. In particular, Democrats in Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania became targets of Russian trolls. Apparently, the authors of such an information operation considered that they would be able to form a Republican majority in the Senate and the House of Commons and thus help Russia win the war.

According to journalists, such a campaign shows how vulnerable the American political system is to manipulation from abroad. Russian bots have to adapt to new conditions, because the main social platforms are fighting against them – actively monitor and remove questionable content and disinformation.

Last month, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency warned the public about “dark web channels, online magazines, instant messengers, scam sites, emails, text messages and fake pages.” Such attempts at disinformation may include claims that the election results are rigged or hacked.

Representatives of the federal agency advised users not to like or share posts from unfamiliar sources. No details were released, but it is known that there have been recent disinformation campaigns from Russia, China and Iran.

Recorded Future and two other analytics firms Graphika and Mandiant have uncovered a number of Russian information campaigns which used platforms such as Gab, Parler and Getter, advertised as spaces liberated by moderation in the name of free speech.

The scale of the current campaign is reportedly much smaller than in 2016, when unverified accounts sent fake accounts to millions of voters on Facebook and other major platforms.

Zelensky cartoons

One cartoon depicted President Zelensky as a bikini-clad pole dancer to which Biden tosses dollars.

“While American workers cannot buy their own food, pay for gas and baby food, Joe Biden wants to spend another $13.7 billion to help Ukraine,” an account with the name Nora Berka said in a post.

“It's no secret that Republicans – a significant portion of them – are questioning the wisdom of supporting what they call 'foreign travel' or 'foreign conflicts',” said Graham Brook, a fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Lab. /p>

Edward P. Perez, formerly of Twitter, now represents the OSET Institute, which deals with election security issues. He explained that in the past, Russians have followed the tactic of collecting followers through fake accounts on most platforms, and today's campaigns may be smaller in scale and still have the desired effect, since the division in American society creates fertile ground for disinformation.

According to Pérez, foreign governments can now afford to slow down a bit, having previously managed to create enough division that there are many local figures who continue to sow disinformation in their interests.