Connect with us

Technology

How AI could manipulate voters and undermine elections, threatening democracy

Published

on

How AI could manipulate voters and undermine elections, threatening democracy

It’s common knowledge that technology had a role in swaying voters in the 2016 and 2020 elections.

To add an additional layer of complications to the upcoming elections in the U.S., artificial intelligence will likely play a heavier hand. 

While AI has been utilized in a multitude of ways in society, there are growing concerns about the use of generative AI during this election season, which may manipulate voters and undermine the elections.

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS, AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER 

Illustration of generative AI   (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Advertisement

What is generative AI?

Generative AI is artificial intelligence that is capable of generating photos, written information and other data based on models that learn and process raw data as well as through user prompts.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

How can generative AI be misused in this year’s election?

For every candidate who is using AI as a cost-saving measure, there are those who can use it for more malicious purposes. While AI can be used to distinguish and exclude ineligible voters from registries as well as signature matches, it may end up suppressing voters by knowingly or unknowingly removing those who are actually eligible.

Chatbots and algorithms can be used to drum up incorrect information to voters, which can sway them against certain candidates. In the worst-case scenario, AI can amplify hot-button issues and potentially stir up violence.

ELECTION bALLOT

A hand putting in a ballot   (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: AI WEARABLE CONTRAPTION GIVES YOU SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH

Advertisement

How tech and AI companies are failing to protect election integrity

Tech companies aren’t investing in election integrity initiatives. AI companies don’t have the connections and funding to manage any risks involved with how their tools get utilized for elections. This means that there is less and less human oversight on what AI generates as well as how the AI-generated information gets used.

The very nature of the American Constitution could be in direct conflict with AI during this election season as free speech is part of the very fabric of American ideals, yet preventing and stopping misinformation is crucial to ensure a fair election.

Not only is the classic mud-slinging of candidates likely, but other countries, such as China, Iran and Russia, have recently been caught trying to use content created with AI to manipulate U.S. voters.

GET MORE OF MY SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK TIPS & EASY VIDEO TUTORIALS WITH THE FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER – CLICK HERE

voters

Voters lined up to vote at the polls   (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: CYBERATTACK ON DC ELECTION SITE EXPOSES VOTER DATA TO HACKERS 

Advertisement

Ways to prevent misuse of AI

Social media has undoubtedly changed the way election campaigns are run. Various platforms have their own processes in place to deal with election information and misinformation. YouTube has changed its policy and states: “We will stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections.”

YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet, requires election advertisers to prominently disclose when their ads include realistic synthetic content that has been digitally altered or generated, including by AI tools. Over the coming months, YouTube will also require creators to disclose when they have created realistic altered or synthetic content and will display a label that indicates to people that the content they’re watching is synthetic. 

Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and Threads, will put labels on images and ads that were made with AI, in order to help people know what is real and what is not, and to stop false or harmful information from spreading, especially during elections.

Several states have passed laws regulating the use of political deepfakes, including California, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Washington.

Advertisement

MORE: AI AND HOLOGRAMS BRING THE KING OF ROCK N ROLL BACK TO LIFE

Kurt’s key takeaways

While there will always be the potential for AI to be misused in any facet of society, it seems most alarming if it will impact our democracy. With the awareness of potential misuse by pundits and voters alike, there is a chance that it will encourage more critical thinking by voters who will be viewing election candidates, issues and information with a more critical eye. That can make people more apt to do their own research than just absorb what they are being “fed” online or offline. And since America’s election system isn’t centralized, it will be harder for AI to be misused as votes are managed at the local level. At the end of the day, your vote will still matter.

What are your biggest concerns regarding the use of AI during this year’s election? Do you think you’ll see or feel the impact? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Advertisement

Ask Kurt a question, or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

Copyright 2024 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Technology

Google pauses Gemini’s ability to generate AI images of people after diversity errors

Published

on

Google pauses Gemini’s ability to generate AI images of people after diversity errors

Google says it’s pausing the ability for its Gemini AI to generate images of people, after the tool was found to be generating inaccurate historical images. Gemini has been creating diverse images of the US Founding Fathers and Nazi-era German soldiers, in what looked like an attempt to subvert the gender and racial stereotypes found in generative AI.

“We’re already working to address recent issues with Gemini’s image generation feature,” says Google in a statement posted on X. “While we do this, we’re going to pause the image generation of people and will re-release an improved version soon.”

Google’s decision to pause image generation of people in Gemini comes less than 24 hours after the company apologized for the inaccuracies in some historical images its AI model generated. Some Gemini users have been requesting images of historical groups or figures like the Founding Fathers and found non-white AI-generated people in the results. That’s led to conspiracy theories online that Google is intentionally avoiding depicting white people.

Google started offering image generation through Gemini (formerly Bard) earlier this month, in a bid to compete with OpenAI and Microsoft’s Copilot.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Technology

The Samsung Galaxy S23 series will get AI features in late March

Published

on

The Samsung Galaxy S23 series will get AI features in late March

Right now, you need a Galaxy S24 phone to use the very latest AI features from Samsung, but that’s changing next month. In late March, Samsung will extend Galaxy AI features to the S23 series — including the S23 FE — as well as recent foldables and tablets as part of the One UI 6.1 update. It’s all free for now, but after 2025 you might have to pay up.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 are slated to get the update, as well as the Galaxy Tab S9, S9 Plus, and S9 Ultra. If Samsung wants to ship Galaxy AI to 100 million phones this year like it says it will, that’s a solid start. The One UI 6.1 update will include the much-touted AI features on the S24 series, including live translation capabilities, generative photo and video editing, and Google’s Circle to Search feature. This suite of features includes a mix of on- and off-device processing, just like it does on the S24 series.

An older phone learning new tricks is unequivocally a good thing, even if Galaxy AI is a little bit of a mixed bag right now. But my overall impression is that these features do occasionally come in handy, and when they go sideways they’re mostly harmless. One UI 6.1 will also include a handful of useful non-AI updates, such as lockscreen widgets and the new, unified Quick Share.

Continue Reading

Technology

Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files

Published

on

Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files

MacOS is generally perceived to be more effective at keeping malware out compared to PCs and other operating systems. However, that’s not the reality; MacOS is just as vulnerable to malware threats as any other operating system, and this misconception can lead you to not be as vigilant regarding malware threats.

As evidence, there’s a new one you need to be aware of called SpectralBlur, which is a sophisticated backdoor malware threat targeting Macs that’s capable of wiping out your files without you even knowing how and when it got there in the first place.

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER

Woman typing on a Mac (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

What is SpectralBlur?

SpectralBlur is a backdoor malware that was created by Lazarus, a hacking group from North Korea. Lazarus has been behind several hacks, including KandyKorn, which targeted blockchain engineers in cryptocurrency.

Advertisement

For quite some time, SpectralBlur went undetected because antivirus software on Mac wasn’t able to pick up on it. It wasn’t until August 2023 that it was uploaded to VirusTotal — a virus detection software — published this new malware threat, and it gathered attention in the cybersecurity community. It’s even being called “The First Malware of 2024” and was dissected originally by Greg Lesnewich.

Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files

MacBook, iPad and iPhone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MAC FROM THE NEW METASTEALER MALWARE

What is SpectralBlur capable of?

Because SpectralBlur is a backdoor malware, it means that instead of having to go through normal authentication procedures — where most malware would get detected — the malware gets into your system in several ways. It could be vulnerabilities in your system, a phishing attack, malicious links/downloads or other tactics.

Objective-See’s security researcher Patrick Wardle also analyzed SpectralBlur and came to similar conclusions as Lesnewich. Once it’s installed, the hacker can grant themselves remote access to your macOS. This gives the hacker the ability to access files and databases on your server. With this access, they can remotely tell it to do whatever they want, for however long they go unnoticed.

From uploading files from your computer into their server, downloading files from the hacker’s server to yours, or deleting files on your computer, they can steal your sensitive information, documents, images, etc., and use them for all sorts of purposes. They can also deploy additional malware (again, without you necessarily realizing it).

Advertisement
Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files

Woman on a Mac computer (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: BEWARE OF THIS MAC MALWARE MASQUERADING AS AN OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY APP

How does SpectralBlur get onto my system and how does it work?

Once SpectralBlur gets initial access, it uses a pseudo-terminal to execute shell commands, which essentially means it can run any command on the macOS system as if the attacker were physically using the computer. It does this via a remote command-and-control (C&C) server, using RC4-encrypted socket communication.

Because this communication is encrypted, it makes it difficult for security systems to detect and analyze the malware’s network activity. This encryption helps it stay hidden by masking the data being sent and received as harmless to your system. Of course, that’s not the case; it’s potentially wreaking havoc without you knowing.

Why does North Korea want access to my computer?

Good question. This isn’t something we’ll cover in depth here, but essentially the idea is because North Korea has so many sanctions on it, hackers are motivated to execute their hacks by money and information. When they can steal funds in cryptocurrency, they can use that money to fund the regime.

MORE: TIPS TO FOLLOW FROM ONE INCREDIBLY COSTLY CONVERSATION WITH CYBERCROOKS

Advertisement

How did SpectralBlur go undetected for so long?

There are a few ways that SpectralBlur goes undetected, especially once it’s gotten access to your system:

To start, it utilizes Mac’s sleep and hibernate commands, which allow it to lay dormant within a system. This capability not only helps it avoid suspicions but also makes it difficult for users and antivirus programs to recognize it’s there. It’s also able to avoid detection by wiping your files and overwriting them with zeros. This method ensures that once it has accessed or created files, they can be completely erased without a trace. So, not only is it deleting your files, it’s getting away with it.

Last but not least, SpectralBlur can update its configuration as it goes. In layman’s terms, it’s quite agile and quick on its feet. By being able to adjust its tactics on the fly, SpectralBlur can stay hidden.

GET MORE OF MY SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK TIPS & EASY VIDEO TUTORIALS WITH THE FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER – CLICK HERE

How can I catch it?

Because SpectralBlur is so sneaky and smart, you might be wondering how Mac users recognize that SpectralBlur is on their system. After all, it evaded virus detectors and cybersecurity experts for quite some time, so the average person shouldn’t be expected to figure it out.

Advertisement

Ultimately, there are a few ways to know if SpectralBlur — or other backdoor malware — may be on your computer:

Unusual system behavior: If you notice your system is acting slower than usual, apps crashing frequently, your system’s settings have changed without you doing it yourself, or just the feeling that something isn’t right, there could be malware on your computer.

Increased CPU or network usage: An unexplained increase in CPU or network usage can also be a red flag. SpectralBlur might be using resources for malicious activities, which means more work on your system than usual.

Suspicious files or applications: Those of you who regularly check your system might find unfamiliar files or applications. While SpectralBlur tries to clean up after itself, certain actions or additional malware installations might leave some traces (albeit not on purpose).

Identity theft: Unfortunately, some users might only realize they’ve been a victim of SpectralBlur or a similar malware attack when their data has been breached. Hopefully, though, it won’t get to this point.

Advertisement

How to protect your macOS from SpectralBlur malware

SpectralBlur is an advanced piece of malware, but there are ways you can protect yourself.

1) To begin with, be sure to update your operating system regularly. Check to see whether or not you’re running the latest version of macOS. If you aren’t, do an update.

2) Install a reliable antivirus software for an additional layer of protection. The absolute best way to protect yourself from having your data breached is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices. Having good antivirus software actively running on your devices will alert you of any malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any malicious links in phishing emails, and ultimately protect you from being hacked. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.

3) Always be cautious when opening email attachments or downloading files, especially from untrusted sources.

4) Use identity theft protection. Identity Theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number, phone number and email address and alert you if it is being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. Read more of my review of the best identity theft protection services here.

Advertisement

5) Although having malware in your system is a cause for concern for bigger things like identity theft, one of the most upsetting results of a SpectralBlur infection for most users is the fact it can delete files on your macOS. No one wants to wake up one morning to find out that their docs, photos, notes, videos and whatever else you have saved to your computer are gone.

Despite the fact you can’t prevent this 100%, you can make sure to hold on to your files. Do this by initiating regular backups of important data. In the event of a malware infection, having up-to-date backups can save all of your important data.

Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files

Man on a Mac computer (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Kurt’s key takeaways

The whole reason that backdoor malware like SpectralBlur is so damaging is that it can exist on your system for a long time without getting noticed, deleting all your files and data in the process. Unfortunately, by the time it is detected, it may be too late. So, please do yourself a favor and protect your Mac as best as possible using the security tips we mention, like installing antivirus protection and backing up your information.

Have you — or has anyone you know — detected SpectralBlur or other backdoor malware on their macOS? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

Advertisement

Ask Kurt a question or let us know what stories you’d like us to cover.

Answers to the most asked CyberGuy questions:

Copyright 2024 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

Continue Reading

Trending