UK Cybersecurity Agency Warns of Potential AI’s Influence on Elections

UK Cybersecurity Agency Warns of Potential AI’s Influence on Elections

Penka Hristovska Penka Hristovska
Published on: November 17, 2023

Britain’s cybersecurity agency said Tuesday that the rise of artificial intelligence poses a serious threat to the national election in the UK, set to take place by January 2025.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) pointed to increasingly realistic deepfake videos, “hyper-realistic bots,” and other forms of fabricated materials that could be used to spread disinformation during a campaign and influence voter preference.

“The NCSC assesses that democratic events, such as elections, almost certainly represent attractive targets for malicious actors and so organizations and individuals need to be prepared for threats, old and new,” the agency, which is part of Britain’s cyberespionage agency, GCHQ, said in the annual review of cybersecurity issues.

It acknowledged that paper voting, which the UK still predominantly uses, can’t be directly targeted by bad actors, but it doesn’t make the country immune to attacks, especially as AI technology continues to make strides.

“While the UK’s use of paper voting in general elections makes it significantly harder to interfere with our elections, the next election will be the first to take place against the backdrop of significant advances in AI,” the group said.

“But rather than presenting entirely new risks, it is AI’s ability to enable existing techniques which poses the biggest threat,” the statement continued. “Any interference or attempts to undermine our political discourse are completely unacceptable and the UK government is committed to enhancing our capabilities and countering the threat from online harms, such as disinformation.”

The agency said cyberattacks by hostile countries and their proxies are another significant cause for concern. The statement noted how the past year has seen “the emergence of a new class of cyber adversary in the form of state-aligned actors, who are often sympathetic to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine and are ideologically, rather than financially, motivated.”

The statement also flagged China’s technological advancements as an ongoing threat to the UK, labeling it “an epoch-defining challenge for UK security.”

“We risk China becoming the predominant power in cyberspace if our efforts to raise resilience and develop our capabilities do not keep pace,” the agency explained.

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