Threat Intelligence

12/3/2018
02:45 PM
50%
50%

'Influence Agents' Used Twitter to Sway 2018 Midterms

About 25% of political support in Arizona and Florida was generated by influence agents using Twitter as a platform, research shows.

Influence agents were responsible for roughly 25% of political support spread via Twitter for candidates in the Arizona and Florida midterm elections, researchers report.

A new body of research by Morpheus Cybersecurity and APCO Worldwide, entitled "Impact of Influence Operations Targeting Midterm Elections," explores the effects of disinformation campaigns. They analyzed hundreds of thousands of retweets from thousands of accounts, looking for non-organic behavior – for example, high numbers of daily tweets for a long time frame.

The researchers' goal was to include all types of influence agents and explore the myriad ways in which bots and humans effectively swayed politicians and journalists with disinformation. 

Influence agents span a broad range of actors, including fully automated bots, semi-automated bots partially operated by humans, people who leverage software to generate traffic, political volunteers working together, and paid influencers employed by a central organization. Actors helped candidates appear to be more popular and generate organic support they didn't have.

The first phase of this study (June 2018 to August 2018) found an average of 27% of support for each political candidate in Arizona and 24% for each candidate in Florida appeared to come from non-organic accounts. Those numbers remained consistent in phase 2 (September 2018), when 26% of support for Arizona candidates and 28% of support for Florida candidates came from non-organic accounts.

Phase 3 consisted of collecting proof of influence. Researchers analyzed thousands of conversations between influence agents and politicians, journalists, and thought leaders. Their findings included a candidate agreeing with statements provided by influence agents, another engaging in a Q&A session with an influence agent, and a journalist discussing his work with an influence agent who was continually threatening him.

Read more details here.

Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Higher Education: 15 Books to Help Cybersecurity Pros Be Better
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Worst Password Blunders of 2018 Hit Organizations East and West
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
10 Best Practices That Could Reshape Your IT Security Department
This Dark Reading Tech Digest, explores ten best practices that could reshape IT security departments.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-20168
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-17
Google gVisor before 2018-08-22 reuses a pagetable in a different level with the paging-structure cache intact, which allows attackers to cause a denial of service ("physical address not valid" panic) via a crafted application.
CVE-2018-20167
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-17
Terminology before 1.3.1 allows Remote Code Execution because popmedia is mishandled, as demonstrated by an unsafe "cat README.md" command when \e}pn is used. A popmedia control sequence can allow the malicious execution of executable file formats registered in the X desktop share MIME typ...
CVE-2018-20161
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
A design flaw in the BlinkForHome (aka Blink For Home) Sync Module 2.10.4 and earlier allows attackers to disable cameras via Wi-Fi, because incident clips (triggered by the motion sensor) are not saved if the attacker's traffic (such as Dot11Deauth) successfully disconnects the Sync Module from the...
CVE-2018-20159
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
i-doit open 1.11.2 allows Remote Code Execution because ZIP archives are mishandled. It has an upload feature that allows an authenticated user with the administrator role to upload arbitrary files to the main website directory. Exploitation involves uploading a ".php" file within a "...
CVE-2018-20157
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
The data import functionality in OpenRefine through 3.1 allows an XML External Entity (XXE) attack through a crafted (zip) file, allowing attackers to read arbitrary files.