Friday, June 21, 2024

Russian Hackers In Attempt To Distrupt The 2024 Paris Olympic Games

Russia is intensifying disinformation campaigns against France, President Macron, the IOC, and the 2024 Paris Olympics, blending decades-old tactics with AI, as the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) identifies two primary goals: tarnishing the IOC’s reputation and fostering expectations of violence at the Games. 

Russian influence actors Storm-1679 and Storm-1099 have shifted their focus to the Olympics since June 2023, which, leveraging AI, is expected to escalate as the Paris Opening Ceremony approaches, posing significant cybersecurity and reputational risks to the event.

A disinformation campaign targeting the 2024 Olympics began in June 2023, when actors launched a fake documentary titled “Olympics Has Fallen” on Telegram, mimicking a Hollywood movie. 

A faked video press release warning the public of possible terror attacks at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics (left). A fabricated France 24 news clip claiming that nearly a quarter of Paris 2024 tickets have been returned due to concerns over terrorism (right).

The documentary used deepfakes and impersonated actor Tom Cruise to attack the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by employing sophisticated techniques like AI-generated audio and fabricated endorsements from major media outlets, suggesting a well-funded and coordinated effort compared to typical influence operations. 

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It leverages manipulated multimedia content to spread fear and disrupt the Paris 2024 Olympics by targeting public perception through fabricated videos imitating reputable news sources like Euro News and France24, falsely reporting anxieties about terrorism and high ticket return rates. 

Phony press releases impersonate government agencies like the CIA and DGSI, issuing fictitious security warnings to dissuade potential attendees.  

A selection of Storm-1099’s anti-Olympics messaging, including from its core disinformation outlet Reliable Recent News (RRN).

A group called Storm-1679 is employing disinformation tactics to disrupt the Paris Olympics, as they fabricated threats by posting images of supposedly anti-Israeli graffiti in Paris, likely generated using digital manipulation tools. 

Additionally, videos referencing the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes resurfaced online, possibly amplified by pro-Russian bot accounts to stoke tensions surrounding the Games. 

The tactics exploit existing geopolitical conflicts to sow fear and discourage attendance at the Olympics, aiming to delegitimize the event and potentially influence international relations.

It has intensified its disinformation campaign targeting the 2024 Olympics, which leverages a network of 15 fake French news websites, including their main outlet, “Reliable Recent News” (RRN), to spread narratives of IOC corruption and potential violence at the Games. 

Doppelganger further forges content from legitimate French publications like Le Parisien and Le Point to amplify these claims and criticize French President Macron’s government, which portray Macron as prioritizing spectacle over addressing domestic hardships. 

According to Microsoft, MTAC anticipates an escalation of Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the Paris Olympics. 

The campaign, currently in French, is expected to branch out to English, German, and other languages using automated social media accounts and AI-generated content to create a facade of widespread support. 

The shift from video to bots aims to overwhelm social media and provide plausible deniability, and Russia might exploit security measures by staging protests or incidents near Olympic venues to erode public trust in the IOC and French authorities.

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Eswar is a Cyber security content editor with a passion for creating captivating and informative content. With years of experience under his belt in Cyber Security, he is covering Cyber Security News, technology and other news.

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