Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) has released a new threat intelligence assessment, highlighting potential unprecedented security challenges to elections in the coming year. The report warns of the possibility of authoritarian nation-states attempting to interfere with electoral processes through a combination of traditional methods and emerging technologies, including AI.
According to the assessment, the increasing use of AI in interference tactics underscores the need for collaboration among governments, technology companies, businesses, and civil society to take proactive measures to safeguard elections. In response to these potential threats, Microsoft has unveiled a set of principles to guide efforts to protect electoral processes in the United States and other countries with critical elections in 2024.
The principles include ensuring voters have reliable election information, helping candidates detect and address AI-generated distortions, supporting campaigns against cyber threats with accessible tools, and equipping election authorities with secure electoral tools.
To address these challenges, Microsoft has announced several initiatives. These include the launch of “Content Credentials as a Service,” a tool that will enable users to digitally sign and authenticate media using digital watermarking credentials to prove the provenance and authenticity of content. This will help election candidates maintain control over their content and images.
In addition, Microsoft will establish a “Campaign Success Team” within its Philanthropies’ Tech for Social Impact organization to support political campaigns in navigating the world of AI and combating cyber-influence campaigns. The company will also create an “Election Communications Hub” to assist democratic governments globally in building secure and resilient election processes, providing access to Microsoft security and support teams in the lead-up to elections.
Furthermore, Microsoft has expressed its support for legislative changes to protect campaigns and electoral processes from deepfakes and deceptive AI content. The company endorses the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act in the United States, which restricts the use of AI to generate misleading content in political ads. Microsoft also plans to empower voters with authoritative election information on Bing in partnership with organizations like the National Association of State Election Directors, EFE, and Reporters Without Borders.
In light of the potential threats highlighted in the MTAC assessment, Microsoft’s initiatives aim to bolster the security and integrity of electoral processes in the face of evolving technological challenges. With the 2024 elections in various countries on the horizon, stakeholders are being urged to work together to address these concerns and ensure the protection of democratic processes.