Russian bots still a treat in U.S. politics even after election

The capacity of Russia to influence key precincts in swing states using fake news-disseminating bots for the duration of the 2016 presidential election that could still be disrupting American politics, concluded by experts on Thursday in the U.S. Senate have  Select a special Committee on the first Intelligence’s  public Russia hearing.

Russia had all the possible abilities to create fake social media accounts with tha to be mimicking voters profiles in all the key election states and precincts for the duration of the 2016 election, also with using a mix of bots and real people pushing propaganda with outlets from the state-controlled media like Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, information provided by the cybersecurity experts to the Senate panel on Thursday. A senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security by the name of Clinton Watts, said that many social accounts for the duration of the election were pushing questionable news and were looking like real voters mostly from states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

By the words of the expert Clinton Watts: “Part of the reason those bios had conservative, Christian, you know, America, all those terms in it, (is) those are the most common ones,”. “If you inhale all of the accounts of the people in Wisconsin, you identify the most common terms in it, you just recreate accounts that look exactly like people from Wisconsin.”

“So that way, whenever you’re trying to socially engineer them and convince them that the information is true, it’s much more simple, because you see somebody and they look exactly like you,” Watts added. That even to the choosing of the pictures. When you look at the pictures, it looks like an American from the Midwest or the South or Wisconsin or whatever the location is.”

The committee’s vice chairman, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, have set a question can Russia target voters without help from people present in the U.S., to which the above mentioned expert said Russia can wage that kind of campaign only with technological tools alone.

Watts said: “Most of this influence came online,” and “without setting foot” in the U.S., When it is a question for open-source threats, “we miss what’s right in front of our nose,” he said.

The reporters on Wednesday were told that there were “upwards of 1,000 paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia, in effect, which were taking over series of computers, also known and called a botnet.”

Democrats for months have been calling for a probe that will determine any Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election, but the Republican-controlled intelligence committees are just now starting to hold public hearings.

This is only a beginning and Russia will use this new warfare tactic to influence American politics again, cybersecurity experts said.

“I think what we see today is going to be with us for a long time,” was the statement of the witness Eugene Rumer, director of the program for Russia and Eurasia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Watts said he and colleagues observed again an appearance of possibly fake social media accounts discrediting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan just as the health care bill collapsed, and also Russia is using similar tactics to influence European elections. 

Watts said that there were couple reasons that U.S. intelligence missed the Russian social media campaigns — one, American counterintelligence has focused mainly on terrorism, and two, members of the American intelligence community have focused on, ground human threats and not social media.

But, just because Russia appeared to influence the election in a way that favored a Republican, doesn’t mean Russia favors Republicans. Targeting is “solely based on what they want to achieve in their own landscape,” Watts said.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio persisted to make sure, in discussing tactics, the Senate panel didn’t lose the forest for the trees, as he said, and miss Russia’s overall “coordinated” effort to “sow” instability and “pit” Americans against each other.