When you hear Bangladesh, what do you think of? A troubled political past and dangerous Bengal tigers roaming around? Recently, Utah Elections Director Justin Lee announced that Facebook had discovered a bot farm from Bangladesh had launched a disinformation campaign. This campaign had the goal of disrupting the general midterm election in Utah.
Director Lee said that it wasn’t directed at any specific campaign. The aim was geared more towards causing mayhem with the process. “You’ll see things like, Go to your poll location, but they’ll have the date wrong. Mail your ballot, but the date will be wrong. That really throws off the process more so than to see bad information about a candidate,” Director Lee stated.
According to a Facebook representative, this bot campaign was not unique to Utah. This was a spam effort that hit 75 different sites across the United States. After Facebook discovered it they quickly shut it down.
The Facebook representative said that “This is an example of our detection systems working the way they should. We noticed foreign activity from financial spammers and within the span of an hour identified this and took action. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to reduce misinformation and protect elections.”
The State of Utah keeps in regular contact with the major social media players, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Utah, along with many other states, has watched as the amount of attempts to infiltrate the voting system has only risen in the past years. More and more misinformation campaigns are also launched each year, particularly around elections.
“The attacks on state systems, the closer we get to elections, do rise exponentially,” Lee stated. “We’re almost over a billion attacks a day on state systems.”
Utah has become known for its recent growth and strides in the tech world, and as it does it becomes more of a target. Cyber security is only becoming more and more of a focus for companies and the government.
The Salt Lake Chamber has created a pamphlet for Best Practices for Utah Businesses – check it out here!