Suspected Iran-backed hackers disrupt streaming news services with fake AI news

Microsoft noted that this is the first Iranian influence operation detected by the company where AI played a key component.

a man wearing glasses
a man wearing glasses

Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Centre (MTAC) reports that Cotton Sandstorm, a hacker group suspected to have links with Iran, disrupted BBC broadcast and other European streaming services with a fake news report on Gaza by an AI-generated anchor, which was streamed in the UK, the UAE and Canada.

The broadcast was accompanied by a banner ‘We have no choice but to hack to deliver this message to you’ and was followed by the AI anchor sharing unverified images from Palestine.

As per MTAC, Cotton Sandstorm published videos of hacking the three online services on their Telegram messaging app.

MTAC shared that the attack, which happened in early December, highlights the fast and significant expansion in the scope of Iranian operations since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict. MTAC added that this is the first Iranian influence operation Microsoft has detected where AI played a key component.

MTAC claimed that the group had been previously recognized as an Iranian state actor sanctioned by the US Treasury Department. This was due to their efforts to compromise the integrity of the 2020 US presidential elections.