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
'PowerSnitch' Hacks Androids via Power Banks
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/8/2018
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
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: So now we are monitoring the monitor?
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-2018-20145
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-13
Eclipse Mosquitto 1.5.x before 1.5.5 allows ACL bypass: if the option per_listener_settings was set to true, and the default listener was in use, and the default listener specified an acl_file, then the acl file was being ignored.
CVE-2018-12076
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-13
A vulnerability in the UPC bar code of the Avanti Markets MarketCard could allow an unauthenticated, local attacker to access funds within the customer's MarketCard balance, and also could lead to Customer Information Disclosure. The vulnerability is due to lack of proper validation of the UPC bar c...
CVE-2018-18922
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-13
add_user in AbiSoft Ticketly 1.0 allows remote attackers to create administrator accounts via an action/add_user.php POST request.
CVE-2018-18923
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-13
AbiSoft Ticketly 1.0 is affected by multiple SQL Injection vulnerabilities through the parameters name, category_id and description in action/addproject.php; kind_id, priority_id, project_id, status_id and title in action/addticket.php; and kind_id and status_id in reports.php.
CVE-2018-19039
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-13
Grafana before 4.6.5 and 5.x before 5.3.3 allows remote authenticated users to read arbitrary files by leveraging Editor or Admin permissions.