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Biggest threat to 2024 elections season - Artificial Intelligence (AI) - TGH Technology and Business Portal/Blog

Year 2024 is going to be an interesting year ahead in the sectors of politics and government leadership renewal around the world. There are a number of countries around the world that would be heading into elections season in 2024. The Time magazine’s article, “The Ultimate Election Year: All the elections around the world in 2024”, gives readers a more in-depth look into political movements around the world. Elections around the world in previous years had been in the limelight on how social media had played good and bad roles in an election outcome. In this 2024 elections season, is social media going to be the main threat/factor that changes an election outcome? In the era of rising Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and implementations, the biggest threat to the 2024 elections season – Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Impact of Cybersecurity and AI on the 2024 election season

A survey “Impact of Cybersecurity and AI on the 2024 election season”, were recently announced by Yubico, the leading provider of hardware authentication security keys, and Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC), a nonprofit and nonpartisan organisation committed to bringing free cybersecurity tools and resources to federal election campaigns.

This survey is conducted by OnePolla leading provider of international market research and data communication solutions, this survey polled 2,000 registered voters in the U.S. to better understand how voters perceive cybersecurity ahead of the 2024 U.S. elections, the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the concerns they have about the cybersecurity of political campaigns, regardless of party affiliations.

“Given the sudden advancement and uncertainty of AI technology, it’s not surprising that over 78 percent of respondents are concerned about AI-generated content being used to impersonate a political candidate or create inauthentic content, with Democrats at 79 percent and Republicans at 80 percent,” said David Treece, vice president of solutions architecture at Yubico. “Perhaps even more telling is that they believe AI will have a negative effect on this year’s election outcomes (42 percent Democrats and 49 percent Republicans).”  

Key Findings from Impact of Cybersecurity and AI on the 2024 election season

What are some of the key findings from the survey of “Impact of Cybersecurity and AI on the 2024 election season”? What roles could AI play in this 2024 election season?

The threat of AI and deep fakes spreading misinformation is present, 85% of respondents don’t have a high level of confidence that political campaigns effectively protect their personal information.

Cybersecurity is now a top focus, if not campaigns run the risk of being breached, exposing personal data, experiencing a financial impact and more, all of which could have a negative effect on the entirety of the election campaign.

42% of those who have donated to a campaign said their likelihood of donating again would change if the campaign was hacked and 30% report his would even change the likelihood of a candidate receiving their vote.

“Campaigns are the heart of our democracy and every campaign must adopt basic cybersecurity protections. This year’s election is particularly risky for cyber attacks directed at candidates, staffers, and anyone associated with a campaign,” said Michael Kaiser, president and CEO of Defending Digital Campaigns. “Having the right cybersecurity in place is not an option — it’s essential for anyone running a political operation. Otherwise, campaigns risk not only losing valuable data, but losing voters.”

Additional key findings

  • 43 percent of respondents believe that AI-generated content will negatively affect the outcome of the 2024 elections.
    • When an audio clip with an AI voice was played, 41 percent believed the AI voice was authentically human.
  • 52 percent of respondents have received an email and/or text message appearing to be from a campaign that they suspected was actually a phishing attempt.
  • From a data security perspective, 85 percent of respondents don’t have a high level of confidence that political campaigns effectively protect the personal information they collect.
  • Registered voters would like to see campaigns and candidates:
    • Take precautions to prevent their websites from being hacked (42 percent)
    • Use strong security measures like multi-factor authentication (MFA) on their accounts (41 percent)
    • Have policies in place and train staffers and key volunteers on cybersecurity for the campaign and protecting personal information (38 percent)
  • Over a quarter of respondents (26 percent) indicated they have not completed a transaction making a campaign donation because of concerns about the security of the transaction or how their personal information would be handled.

Importance of cybersecurity and authentication security

“Because campaigns are built on trust, potential hacks like fraudulent emails or messages sent out impersonating them via their social media accounts, where they are directly interacting with their audience, could be detrimental to campaigns,” added Treece. “It’s imperative that candidates take proper steps to protect their campaigns and more importantly, to build trust with voters by adopting modern cybersecurity practices like phishing-resistant authentication. Adding a layer of protection with a physical hardware security key, like a YubiKey, to online accounts is a crucial component to ensuring that campaigns remain secure.” 

Since 2020, Yubico has donated tens of thousands of security keys to DDC on behalf of its philanthropic initiative–Secure it Forward–where the company donates YubiKeys to journalists, human rights activists and organisations that work to preserve democratic integrity, further diversity in tech and protect human rights.

“Collaboration is one of the most important ways to strengthen cybersecurity,” said Kaiser. “At DDC we are extremely grateful for our partnership with Yubico, whose generosity allows us to provide free security keys to campaigns, enabling them with the strongest account protection possible. The keys allow a computer user to protect cloud, social, and financial accounts on the campaign, as well as personal accounts and all primary targets of bad actors.”  

What can election campaigns do to protect themselves and build trust with voters?

2024 election season is underway, what can election campaigns do to protect themselves and build trust with their voters?

Even though cybersecurity attacks are becoming more sophisticated with tools like AI, there are simple ways to help mitigate these risks, including using strong, unique passwords and storing them in a password manager, along with enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible using physical security keys like those available from Yubico and the DDC.

DDC, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organisation, is committed to bringing free cybersecurity products, services, training, and information to federal political campaigns and committees and down-ballot candidates in a growing number of states. It has an extensive network of partners and resources to prepare political campaigns with the tools they need to stay secure. In partnership with Yubico, they provide YubiKeys at no cost to political campaigns regardless of party affiliation.

What would be the impacts and changes that AI is going to bring in 2024 and beyond?

Part of my ongoing TGH Technology Research/Learning Series on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that I started in 2023, I am have recently kickstarted my AI research/learning series for 2024. From the technology side of things, to the hardware powering AI, I am now entering into how AI comes into play into our society and daily life, beyond Generative AI powered apps/software answering your queries.

Although the AI threat to election is a U.S context, other countries holding elections this year 2024 and beyond 2024 will definitely study and observe how the power and impacts of AI could be on elections in their home country. There are still a lot of lessons and experiences that need to be learn, understand, review, tweak and improved for the future of AI technology, whether it’s in elections, or machines, devices, software and in our daily work and living.

As more AI related technology is launched, more hardware and gadgets using AI technology, the world might just be starting on a new journey ahead on utilising the full potentials and impacts of AI.

In my personal opinion, we still have a lot to learn about using and implementing AI. This elections season in 2024 is just one of the many real life scenarios to come that we can and must learn on implementing and using AI, as well as the good and bad of using AI technology.

* Information courtesy of Yubico *

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