tv Close up - Information Warfare - Trolls Hackers and Fake News in Germanys... Deutsche Welle September 19, 2017 3:15am-3:46am CEST
september twenty third to. germany just before the federal election the country is braced for a possible cyber attack. on a complex organization like the talk is almost impossible to secure and. so who is trying to influence germany's election along with hackers other people are spreading disinformation online in a bid to influence public opinion and destabilise the vote. and by that is what we're seeing in terms of attacks on elections is totally new we have. a long line information warfare has already become a reality in the us and french elections. is germany next.
we want to find out just how free and fair this election will be in the wake of attacks on the u.s. and french presidential elections just how big is the threat to berlin. and what impact is fake news having on the vote how is fake news being disseminated in germany and what is being done about it are german lawmakers adequately protected against cyber attacks can we expect targeted efforts to influence the vote from
russia for example. berlin twenty fifteen. hackers break into servers and computers of the blandest talk to the german parliament because according to news reports the identity of the hackers is unknown. in belize using a fake e-mail purporting to be from the united nations about the conflict in ukraine hackers succeeded in the largest theft of data known to the german parliament. sixteen gigabytes of data were stolen that's the equivalent of about eight million pages of paper carsten no is a cyber security specialist in berlin he gets commissions from all over the world from multinationals who want to protect their i t systems he analyzed the blandest talk hack for us. picked out his would anyone who clicked on the e-mail was taken to a website that took over the user's computer without
a single further going on. starting with a small number of computers the group was able to infect and take control of the entire network. is so fun controlling what is that. once the hackers are in control they have more or less total access to all data and can control single systems or entire networks. in accordance with states struggle to defend themselves against these groups because their id landscapes are so complex. just talk and german political parties have repeatedly come under attack from hackers maria luisa back specializes in eastern and central european politics she's long defended dissidents in russia and was also highly critical of the russian annexation of crimea not long afterward she became the target of a cyber attack. by me yet. in february twenty fourth. i came under attack from a trojan and. a virus that inflow traded
a computer in my office. it took two years to establish that the hackers involved in this attack were exactly the same as the ones who hacked into hillary clinton's election campaign in this one can by a companion cut. so who is behind these groups that are launching attacks on politicians in the us and germany. and how do they operate. john podesta. while he was head of hillary clinton's election campaign his e-mail account was hacked one of his team fell for a fake g. mail alert. the cyber attack came to light a month before the us presidential election. the wiki leaks hack into clinton
campaign chairman john podesta is private e-mail server reuters is reporting the e-mails the guy who's e-mails these all come from is john podesta used to work in a worst case scenario in an election campaign when he heard our candidate and and it hurt our party. it began with hacking of the democratic national committee. servers and extended into attacking and hacking a personal accounts including my own that was then weaponized as it were the emails were released in a way my e-mails in particular were released in a way to do maximum damage to hillary clinton and in the campaign protest as a. protest i was the victim of a typical cyber attack folks when we test organizations and we have a success rate of about sixty percent more than half of employees fall for phishing mails and it's very hard for the average employee to tell whether they're dealing
with an official mail asking them to observe certain security procedures or a phishing e-mail which looks and feels exactly the same yes my can also unfair and i was at least. laura galante hunts hackers. she is a renowned cyber security analyst in the u.s. . all in the service of a nation state strategic interest she investigated the attacks on america's democratic party and found some traces that were very familiar to her. and back in two thousand and fourteen as part of our investigation into a variety of different incidents that we had seen at fire we were able to track the forensics behind this malware to show that the most likely sponsor building these
tools and conducting these operations was sponsored by the russian government and this was back in twenty fourteen before this became a political hot potato in the u.s. so in two thousand and sixteen when the same tool showed up at the d.n.c. network that was the initial you know moment when when a lot of us in the security industry said wow are we seeing the russian government or russian government sponsored hackers on the networks of of the u.s. political and in this case the specialist's analyze the malware and decided it came from a group known as a p t twenty eight they keep coming across this group in analyses of various cyber attacks including those on the world anti-doping agency the ukrainian authorities and french t.v. . what happened to the sixteen gigabytes of stolen data both laura galante and german intelligence authorities now believe that the same group was responsible for the cyber attacks in the us and in germany. and listen to us in my view. we
did in that german parties politicians and individuals repeatedly came under cyber attack by a.p.t and other abts which we believe are run by russian services and. we went to moscow with our questions did hacker groups such as a p t twenty eight manipulate western election campaigns from here how likely is it that they are working on behalf of the russian government. but no proof has been published so far the german authorities haven't produced any evidence either. the journalist we've agreed to made runs an investigative magazine called the insider. he says he has no doubt that russian president vladimir putin and a group run by military intelligence are behind the cyber attacks despite official
denials. but all mundubbera hot off is sure putin issued the orders. there were you know the boy store upwards and i should say you have to realize that putin was a k.g.b. officer who grew up with k.g.b. traditions and special operations which include blackmail and compromising allegation. and cyber attacks can be used in various ways to manipulate politicians . it's no coincidence that it's suspected that donald trump was the target of one of these special operations just with a device and. then your. next we meet and. he's an expert on the ways of the russian secret services he says he's certain that the russian government has been engaged in information warfare for a long time. sold out off also carries out research into groups like twenty eight
we ask him if the group works for the russian state but most movies doesn't but it is possible to prove state support you can do it by checking how many resources went into a project how much time was spent on it you can reach conclusions and there's a consensus among experts all over the world they believe there's enough evidence to determine what country the cyber attack is coming from and whether it had state support used excessive i guess. the russian president's p.r. office tells us that they have never heard of a p t twenty eight. and that neither russia nor the russian government have ever been responsible for a cyber attack.
back to germany and the national situation room at the federal office for i.t. security this is the nerve center of german efforts to protect their oficial authorities and critical infrastructure from cyber attack. and always keep it one of the tricks i don't think you can ever achieve one hundred percent protection or security for that we work to implement sensible risk management policies and train employees you can think of it is not just building a medieval wall around the city but also protecting individual buildings and implementing different security concepts. that's concept. that means germany's political parties also have to take more effective measures to defend themselves. that's so that when if we have made significant improvements to the networks of the different federal authorities so that we can identify infiltration attempts or
attempted data theft early of all we also help parties with what's called penetration testing to see if there i t. systems have improved or perhaps remain vulnerable to cyber attacks with them to look. penetration tests are basically benign hacker tests aimed at finding weaknesses in computer systems. carsten no carries out tests like this for companies in the process he and his team regularly find security flaws in i.t. systems that can be exploited by hackers very often it's the users themselves who represent the biggest weakness if they fall victim to a cyber attack they may unwittingly launch them out where themselves they move in a tough on a focus i think the overwhelming majority of successful cyber attacks on large firms and governments in recent years have been based on a single hacking method fishing and. phishing is when the hacker attaches
a document to an email or links the email to a website and times the user to click on it so. just as i. saw it. as soon as that click happens the hacker can access sensitive data and the network it's stored on. question known shows us how simple it is to carry out a trick like this with just a few clicks he turns a harmless document into malware. so if we can does it we can convert this document simply by adding a fourth function that when the document is opened installs a harmful virus on the computer and that's enough to give the hacker total control over the computer. for the called hollywood in computer game. total control that means the hacker has access to everything they can use the web cam or any
other hardware or software. one careless parliamentarian or employee is all it takes that's partly what makes it so difficult for security analysts to tackle hackers and the election in the us showed us what repercussions a successful cyber attack can have. it wasn't confined to publishing the emails of hillary clinton or john podesta it was also about spreading fake news first came the hack then the conspiracy theory take pizza gate for example. it started with a lie that clinton and predestined were operating an international paedophile ring from a pizzeria. and. it's going to go to the court pizza gate is real the question is how realistic one is shut things going on something's being covered up in these to be investigated just
call it fake these are real wiki leaks this is real stuff going on here it is this was a completely false story about why hillary clinton's . involvement as it were with a child sex ring run out of a pizza parlor and in in washington d.c. completely false completely made up but it had a life of its own. pizza gate took hillary clinton and her teen by surprise unnoticed by many people those behind the conspiracy story were able to spread propaganda on behalf of clinton's rival donald trump those stories and story lines you don't see him every day because they're not on television they're not on cable t.v. they're not in the mainstream newspaper outlets and yet they're being spread virally through social media and i think in retrospect that we needed to combat
that in the social media in a more effective way than we did in the campaign if you look at facebook. alone that the top twenty fake news stories had more distribution more likes more shares than the top twenty real news stories in the last seventy five days of the campaign. what kind of fake news will we see in the german election campaign one of germany's leading public t.v. news programs talk show has its own unit for sniffing out lies on the internet patrick and sing heads the group of researchers trying to hold back the tide of dissent from ation. for a long time the team was unsure how to handle fake news stories after all you don't want to help spread the. but as pizza gate showed by reaching millions of people fake news doesn't just go away if you ignore it again singh and his team troll the
net for fake news stories research their background and publish rebuttals and corrections the series of lies in companion campaigns can be directed against politicians of various hues but the most frequent target is the green party green party politicians get words put in their mouths portraying them as pedophiles or implying that they are deliberately bringing refugees into the country often people who have been active on behalf of refugees are targeted with allegations. against him says most fake news is spread by the right wing supporters of the far right a.f.d. party are among the biggest culprits. that's when in fact what we've seen in recent weeks is that the language used by the f.t. is getting more aggressive again for a while it was almost nuanced on facebook now they are back to frontal attacks. zoom on hagar is head of the institute for political data science one of a kind in germany. he looks into political trends and what role
online discourse is playing ahead of the election he too has noticed that fake news stories have become part of the german election campaign. moment and they stick with the five the biggest danger i see at the moment is that fake news is creating a climate where people don't believe anything anymore then they just turn to their own networks here in germany we are seeing new networks structures in very dense networks on the right wing where people live in a kind of echo chamber where all they hear are things that confirm what they already believe. in line and that can lead to an extreme polarization of society. when users read only content that matches their opinion it's called an echo chamber it's a perfect incubator for fake news stories here's how it works
a statistic released by the gate stone institute sixteen hundred knife attacks in germany in the first months of twenty seven thousand alone the message that life has got much more dangerous the statistic is disseminated by various anti immigration websites and by the a.f.p. itself. side yeah let's begin since the beginning of the year there have been sixteen hundred knife attacks about ten a day germany is not diverse germany is extremely dangerous. the figure is a fabrication it's not based on police statistics but cobbled together from police press releases that offer no way. knowing whether crime rates have gone up or down one name that keeps popping up is so one can who writes for the gates don't institute he started the rumor about knife attacks but we don't get to hear how he arrived at the number he doesn't respond to any of our inquiries. who is this man who spreads fear of refugees in germany through a website run from new york the gay stone institute is here in the upmarket upper
east side right beside central park we tried to talk to can hello i'm looking for the gates go in and see if you. expect no we're going to be told like you know we're looking for them can actually have us want to like to know where we can. we can contact them cause we try to start a mail and didn't get an answer. fake news stories are hit and run jobs often the authors just don't wall the media after they start the rumor of his the a.f.d. party did not want to talk to us either only a f.t. candidate nicholas fest was willing to speak. first said he couldn't remember where he read the information but that it was not gates' tone. to find out how this story managed to spread at all we turn to.
it when it comes to fake news we look for traces and clues. we examined how it was distributed and whether social bots were involved which may have made the stories much bigger than they really were. to find out why fake news stories spread so rapidly we had to cologne. there we caught up with elizabeth bailing. she's a cognitive scientist at u.c. berkeley who studies the language of populists and fake news stories. veiling investigates health fake news and lodges in our brains and what emotions it triggers. specially well are very concrete images or very simple sentences words and ideas because this is
typical for fake news stories and certain corners of the internet this very simple imagery and these very simple concepts are what gets stuck in our brain. the more concrete the image the longer the message launches in our memory and the easier it manipulates our thought processes. we go back to munich and z. mon hey galatians. he and his team have a valuated the data on how the fake news story spread via social media. does this it's the story this graph shows the development of our rumored epidemic of knife attacks supposedly ten stabbings a day in germany and the home when it's coming all within an hour we can find out when the story spread fastest and the day the story was posted on the internet was
also the day it's spread fastest. but the knife attack story wasn't shared by only real people. and taking your i pod and then we recognize some familiar faces one of the users who shared the story most often is avi pitzi who makes the impression of being an f.d.a. sympathizer. but you see clues that it's probably a social bot i and again visit often into three for more than one source about. cagle is found several social bots spreading fake news stories social bots are social media accounts pretending to be those of humans in reality they're just computer programs that automatically share in this case they were programmed to attract attention off and they automatically copy and share posts with other bots sometimes in the hundreds sometimes in the thousands they're not always easy to recognize but more than fifty posts
a day by any single user is suspicious. this isn't like being exact yalit of the salad people all say it's nothing really new that we've had it is long as we've had social media but i have to say what's happening in this election campaign is new and different because there have been activities in the past by certain vague groupings trying to gain influence but in all the years i've been working on this topic i've never seen anything like this new thing. fake news is not the only way we can be influenced another relatively new method of campaigning is micro-targeting the idea is to address each and every facebook user differently depending on their personal interests and needs. and reidel of the nomics digital agency does just that but for companies not for
political parties. in my talk with micro-targeting we can think about exactly whom we want to reach with our advertising who gets our message. facebook knows who we are and sells the information the more customized the more value it has. facebook facebook stores certain data including for example my geographical data and where i am when i log into facebook. the data could also be used any time for canvassing voters in extreme cases facebook users would only see ads that suited their worldview standards want to see different kinds of data are used for example behavior related data such as which pages i like which articles i read on facebook and what other websites i go to on the internet side internet in his wanderings. donald trump employed targeted advertising but do german political parties also do
it we set up a facebook account purporting to be right wing and over the course of weeks repeatedly like a f.t. items along with other things that came across as anti refugee or nationalist our facebook friends were made up of a hefty circles and groups even further to the right. a short while ago we came across this advertising message posted by a junior minister and leading c.d.u. member yen spawn safe external borders for a safe e.u. is that the way you see it too via facebook we learned that yen spawn was targeting a f.t. sympathisers between the ages of twenty two and forty eight only they saw the ad yet his facebook timeline featured the term external borders just once in the last six months. so why is sean on such familiar terms with a f t sympathizers and why does he canvass their votes in such a targeted but covert way spawn would only issue a written statement the ad to which you are referring is part of
a like campaign from my facebook page furthermore i have consistently maintained the stance in countless interviews guest columns and public debates that the e use external borders must be secure. this post was also from yet. spahn here he presents germany as cosmopolitan and worldly this ad is aimed nodded a.f.d. voters but at big city residents between the ages of twenty and fifty according to spawn's office. apparently tells different target groups what they want to hear he uses the echo chamber to his own benefit. the c.d.u. parliamentary party has this to say directing advertising messages at certain target groups has been a proven method for example during regional election campaigns this year we aimed certain messages at certain areas in the federal states. the
election campaign twenty seventeen is taking place amid cyber attacks fake news stories and customized campaign ads there's no way of knowing yet whether it will affect the result but it's clear today's information wars are being waged on more fronts with more methods than ever before. the whole d w one out. for in focus global insights any time anywhere. the news hour for the local heroes.