China may use AI anchors, memes to disrupt polls in India: Microsoft report
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China may use AI anchors, memes to disrupt polls in India: Microsoft report

An analysis by Microsoft has revealed that Chinese state-backed cyber groups, with support from North Korea, will attempt to target polls in India, the United States and South Korea.

China may use artificial intelligence-generated content to manipulate Lok Sabha elections in India following a trial run in the Taiwan presidential poll, Microsoft has warned. An analysis by Microsoft Threat Intelligence has revealed that Chinese state-backed cyber groups, with support from North Korea, would also attempt to target polls in the United States and South Korea.

"China will create and amplify AI-generated content to benefit its interests. Despite the chances of such content affecting election results remaining low, China's increasing experimentation in augmenting memes, videos, and audio will likely continue, and may prove more effective down the line," the report said.

A seven-phase Lok Sabha election will kick off from April 19 and will continue till June 1. Poll results will be declared on June 4.

The report noted that a Chinese cyber actor, Flax Typhoon, which frequently attacks the telecommunications sector, targeted India, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and the United States in the early fall and winter of 2023.

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China may use AI anchors, memes to disrupt polls in India: Microsoft report

In February, a Chinese state-linked hacker group claimed to have targeted key offices of the Indian government, including the "PMO" (likely the Prime Minister's Office) and the Home Ministry, and businesses like Reliance and Air India.

An investigation by The Washington Post revealed that the hackers also breached 95.2 gigabytes of immigration data from the Indian government. The leaked files were posted on GitHub.

The Microsoft report also said Storm-1376, another Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-linked actor, posted videos of an AI-generated anchor in Mandarin and English alleging that the United States and India were responsible for the unrest in Myanmar.

Myanmar has been facing a civil war since a coup by its military in February 2021. The coup had triggered massive rallies in 2021 that were allegedly brutally suppressed. Several political leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were also detained.

Last month, Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the use of artificial intelligence and the menace of deepfake content generated through various AI tools.

"In a vast country like India, there is always a possibility of misguiding through deepfake. What if somebody puts out an obnoxious piece on me? People may believe it initially," PM Modi said.

In its report, Microsoft said that China had already attempted a disinformation campaign in the Taiwan presidential election in January using AI content. Microsoft said there was also an increased use of AI-generated TV news anchors.

Citing an example, the report said a fake video was posted on YouTube of election candidate Terry Gou -- who had withdrawn before the polls -- endorsing another candidate.

With the United States also going to the polls later this year, Chinese groups are leveraging social media platforms to pose divisive questions to voters and gather intelligence on key voting demographics, the Microsoft report said.

The report also highlighted that North Korea had ramped up its cryptocurrency heists and supply chain attacks to fund its military goals and intelligence collection. "It has also begun to use AI to make its operations more effective and efficient," the report warned.

Source: India Today

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