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Microsoft Issues Warning About Russian Disinformation Against the Olympics

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Photo: Microsoft Issues Warning About Russian Disinformation Against the Olympics. Source: Getty Images
Photo: Microsoft Issues Warning About Russian Disinformation Against the Olympics. Source: Getty Images

Russia has stepped up its disinformation campaign against the Olympic Games in Paris. It targets not only the Games themselves, but also French President Emmanuel Macron and the International Olympic Committee. The aim of the campaign is to create the impression that violence is possible at the competition and to defame the IOC's reputation. These are the conclusions reached by Microsoft cybersecurity experts in their report.



The report states that two Russian influence groups, Storm-1679 and Storm-1099, are using artificial intelligence for these purposes in combination with more conservative methods of malicious activity.



In particular, Russian propagandists created an hour-long documentary, released a number of fake news stories, imitated French and American intelligence services, as well as famous people, such as film actor Tom Cruise, to spread false warnings about the dangers of the Olympic Games.



For example, one of the fake videos posing as a France 24 story claims that 24% of the tickets sold for the Olympics were returned due to fears of attacks.

Another fake news story claims to be from the CIA and the French Directorate General of Internal Security. It urges people not to travel to France because of the alleged risk of attack and the dangerous situation in the country before and during the Olympics.



Microsoft experts also spoke about a network of 15 French-language websites that pose as media outlets. These sites distribute content warning of possible attacks and criticising the French president and government for their indifference to the problems of the French people.



It is worth noting that such subversive activities of Russian special services have been going on for a long time. In particular, in June 2023, the Storm-1679 group distributed a fake documentary against the IOC called The Fall of the Olympics, inspired by the film The Fall of the White House. The Russian cybercriminals then used artificial intelligence to imitate the voice of American actor Tom Cruise.



Other images and videos distributed by Russian propagandists referred to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where Black September terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli team and a German policeman.



Microsoft warns that such information activities by Russian propagandists will intensify before the start of the Olympic Games. They note that some of these groups are run directly by aides to dictator Vladimir Putin, while others are linked to Russian intelligence.

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