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China may Try to Influence Elections in India, US, South Korea Using AI: Microsoft

China may Try to Influence Elections in India, US, South Korea Using AI: Microsoft

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NEW DELHI, Apr 5: China will use content generated through artificial intelligence (AI) to try and disrupt upcoming Lok Sabha polls in India along with elections in countries like the United States and South Korea, a report released by Microsoft on Friday said.

It said “at a minimum” China would create and distribute through social media AI-generated content that “benefits their positions in these high-profile elections.” And while the chances of such content affecting election results remain low, the company said China’s increasing experimentation in augmenting memes, videos, and audio would continue, “and may prove more effective down the line.” These are among the Microsoft Threat Intelligence insights in a report titled ‘Same targets, new playbooks: East Asia threat actors employ unique methods’ published by the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC).

China had already attempted an AI-generated disinformation campaign in the Taiwan presidential election in January, Microsoft said in the report. This, the company said, was the first time it had seen a state-backed entity using AI-made content in a bid to influence a foreign election.

But, China’s targets could go far beyond Taiwan this year, Microsoft warned. The company said it has observed “several notable cyber and influence trends from China and North Korea since June 2023 that demonstrate not only doubling down on familiar targets, but also attempts to use more sophisticated influence techniques to achieve their goals.”

Microsoft claimed that Chinese cyber actors broadly selected three target areas over the last seven months: one set of Chinese actors extensively targeted entities across the South Pacific Islands, and a second set of Chinese activity continued a streak of cyberattacks against regional adversaries in the South China Sea region. A third set of Chinese actors compromised the US defence industrial base, the company said.

“Chinese influence campaigns continued to refine AI-generated or AI-enhanced content. The influence actors behind these campaigns have shown a willingness to both amplify AI-generated media that benefits their strategic narratives, as well as create their own video, memes, and audio content,” Microsoft said.

China-based threat actors continued to target entities related to China’s economic and military interests in and around the South China Sea and compromised government and telecommunications entities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as per Microsoft.

A Chinese cyber actor called Flax Typhoon also targeted entities related to US-Philippines military exercises and has since targeted entities in Philippines, Hong Kong, India, and the United States in the early fall and winter of 2023, Microsoft said.

(Manas Dasgupta)




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