Russian Bots Promote Fake News

Thousands of suspected pro-Russia robotic accounts producing bogus web messages about the Salisbury attack are the Nazi propagandists of the 21st century and must be confronted, the UK defence secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson said that the government may seek to talk with social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook about ways to combat this kind of information warfare, which he likened to the wartime “Germany calling” broadcasts of William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw-Haw.

He stressed the importance of protecting free speech, including the ability to criticise the government and challenge its assessment that the Kremlin was behind the attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Speaking to The Times, he revealed that he was nervous that President Putin would seek to attack Britain and its allies again in some unexpected way, but he said that Moscow would never win as long as Nato countries displayed a united front.

Mr Williamson, who told Russia this month to “go away and shut up”, said the West’s patience was wearing “very, very, very thin”. He described as “shocking” the results of government monitoring reports that Russia had begun a disinformation campaign since Salisbury, with an estimated 2,800 suspected automated online accounts churning out messages to sow dissent.

“What actually happens is it completely distorts the narrative of what people think about things,” he said during a visit to Estonia to meet hundreds of British troops deployed as part of a Nato mission to counter Russian aggression on its eastern flank.

He described how pro-Russia online robotic and troll accounts exploited genuine doubt among some about the UK’s blaming of Russia in the Salisbury case to create a false impression that this was the majority view.

It was part of a disinformation operation by the Kremlin, using state-backed media channels such as RT and Sputnik, amplified by fake social media accounts, that was designed to take advantage of divisions in democratic societies and turn people against each other.

“We have to make sure that that narrative is countered . . . It is effectively the Lord Haw-Haws of the modern era,” he said. Lord Haw-Haw was the nickname of Joyce, the English-speaking Nazi propagandist of the Second World War. He was in Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and moved to Germany before the outbreak of war. His broadcasts from Berlin were prized by Goebbels.

Mr Williamson, asked whether the government should work with technology companies such as Twitter and Facebook to tackle state-backed hostile information in the same way as it was taking down online terrorist content, signalled that it could be an option.

“You maybe do need to look at . . . if you have to deal with this in a slightly different way and that is maybe working with some of those providers,” he said.

Britain is investing £100 million over the next five years to counter disinformation at home and across Europe, including in the Baltic states.

Mr Williamson said he also wanted the armed forces to play a greater role in the effort. A relatively new unit, 77 Brigade, focusing on information operations, would be a more central part of all military deployments, he said.

Britain was also seeking to retain a relationship with an EU team highlighting Russian propaganda and disinformation in weekly emails and online posts.

A recent cyber-attack on the UK Anti-Doping Agency failed to access confidential medical and drug testing data of Premier League footballers and Olympians.

Suspicion has fallen on the Russian Fancy Bears group, which has stolen sensitive records from the world and US anti-doping agencies before.

The Times

You Might Also Read:

Fake News Will Lead To A Cyber War:

On Twitter Fake News Gets More Traction Than Truth:

« Canadian Police Uncover Dark Net Gun Market
Regulation Might Actually Protect Facebook »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

MIRACL

MIRACL

MIRACL provides the world’s only single step Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which can replace passwords on 100% of mobiles, desktops or even Smart TVs.

ManageEngine

ManageEngine

As the IT management division of Zoho Corporation, ManageEngine prioritizes flexible solutions that work for all businesses, regardless of size or budget.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

Kramer Levin

Kramer Levin

Kramer Levin is a full-service law firm with offices in New York and Paris. Practice areas include Cybersecurity, Privacy and Data Protection.

CERT-PA

CERT-PA

CERT-PA is the national Computer Emergency Response Team for Italian government institutions.

Cyber DriveWare

Cyber DriveWare

DriveWare analyzes new traffic in the I/O layer and blocks malware and cyber attacks which organizations have no means to protect against.

Qufaro

Qufaro

Qufaro is a new initiative designed to make it simpler for those with career ambitions in cyber security to access the UK’s cyber-specific education and innovation opportunities.

Echoworx

Echoworx

Echoworx primary and exclusive focus is providing organizations with secure email services.

Miradore

Miradore

Miradore is a software company specializing in effective, cloud-based device management. Our goal is to help IT Service Providers and IT departments secure and control devices.

Allthenticate

Allthenticate

Allthenticate Single Device Authentication (SDA), enables seamless authentication in both the physical and digital words while unifying management in one easy-to-use interface.

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

The Electric Power Research Institute’s Cyber Security Research Laboratory (CSRL) addresses the security issues of critical functions of electric utilities.

US Cyber Range

US Cyber Range

US Cyber Range is a scalable, cloud-hosted infrastructure providing students with virtual environments for realistic, hands-on cybersecurity labs and exercises.

Elemental Cyber Security

Elemental Cyber Security

Elemental is a game changing cyber security compliance automation and enforcement technology provider.

Gridware

Gridware

Gridware is a specialised cybersecurity consultancy firm and an emerging global player in the cybersecurity intelligence and advisory field.

ECS Ethiopia

ECS Ethiopia

ECS Ethiopia provides Ethiopia’s leading institutions with top cyber-security expertise and technology to enable them to overcome risks and market barriers enabling them to grow their business.

Arctic Group

Arctic Group

Arctic Group is a Swedish service provider focusing on cybersecurity, integration services and deployment of software development tools.

Normalyze

Normalyze

Normalyze are solving some of the most painful problems enterprise IT security teams face in the cloud and data security space. We help enterprises protect all the data they run in the cloud.

Block Harbor Cybersecurity

Block Harbor Cybersecurity

Block Harbor has worked closely with automakers, suppliers, and regulators since 2014 on vehicle cybersecurity.

Strata Information Group (SIG)

Strata Information Group (SIG)

Strata Information Group (SIG) is a trusted partner in IT solutions and consulting services.