Microsoft on the Issues: “We are taking new steps against broadening threats to democracy”

It’s clear that democracies around the world are under attack. Foreign entities are launching cyber strikes to disrupt elections and sow discord. Unfortunately, the internet has become an avenue for some governments to steal and leak information, spread disinformation, and probe and potentially attempt to tamper with voting systems. We saw this during the United…



Faisal Razzak, senior security engineer at Venafi, said:

“We can be confident that “Fancy Bear” is not the only group of  nation state attackers spreading false information on the Internet for political gain. Attacks like this have been going on for years and they keep getting more sophisticated. It is clear that many nation states are spending a lot of money to try to control political narratives.

Hopefully, Microsoft’s action will serve as  a wakeup call to the technology industry and encourage pro-active measures against the assault against western democracy by nation states focused on disrupting our political process. More actions of this type will discourage attackers and also improve our collective knowledge of these attacks. This would also help the industry develop tools designed to  take pro-active action against malicious online content. It’s absolutely clear that ing of false information is a critical political issue that must be addressed.

There are several potential goals of this kind of campaign – First, to collect intelligence on targeted groups. Second, to spread misinformation in order to control and manipulate the liberal vs conservative narrative.  Third, to create and division among the targeted groups that can be exploited for political gain. And fourth, to collect personal information about political candidates and their constituents, which can be used  later to spread malicious spread information.

Though these efforts are helpful in bringing attention to the issue of foreign meddling in elections, in most case the damage has already done. In this example these websites bad been running for some time collecting information about the voters and their potential political candidates. Unfortunately, we are playing a  game of catch-up in which the bad guys have been exploiting internet to use for their own purpose for a long time.  At this point the good guys are still  trying to catch up using reactive approaches.  This is better than nothing but we have a long way to go.”