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Russian bots strike again, this time targeting a TV talent show for kids

By midian182 · 18 replies
May 17, 2019
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  1. 11-year-old Mikella Abramova was crowned the winner of Russia's The Voice Kids after securing 56.5 percent of the phone-in poll, racking up 30,000 votes.

    Suspicion arose as Abramova—the daughter of Russian singer Alsou and millionaire Yan Abamov—received ten times more votes than any other contestant. Cybersecurity investigators Group-IB were brought in to examine the results and discovered that around 8,000 text messages were sent from around 300 consecutive phone numbers.

    "The analyzed traffic revealed massive automated SMS spamming in favor of one of The Voice Kids participants,” Group-IB wrote in its report. One element that helped prove the manipulation came from a technical problem on the part of the person behind the bots. It “resulted in a piece of code designed to automate the sending of messages being included into the text messages in the form of «07 31: 2019-04-26 22:47:31», where 07 is the participant’s number.” It’s still not known who was responsible for the rigging.

    Channel One said the incident "must be the first and last time that anyone tries to control the audience's choice." It added that "children should not take the blame for actions carried out by somebody else. Each participant becomes a member of the big Voice family."

    The finale of the sixth season will be filmed again later this month, and a new voting system will be in place before the start of the show’s next season.

    Permalink to story.

  2. kombu

    kombu TS Addict Posts: 91   +184

    In a world full of uncertainty, Russia once again ensures that the right candidate wins and democracy remains unharmed. lel
    lipe123, TempleOrion, DaveBG and 4 others like this.
  3. R00sT3R

    R00sT3R TS Guru Posts: 161   +342

    Russia is what happens when brain cells meet the Kardashians.
  4. Impudicus

    Impudicus TS Addict Posts: 138   +93

    So when they say "Russian Bots" do they mean it was State sponsored cyber attack on a Russian Talent show? Or did someone use bots to rig a talent show that happened to be in Russia?
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,989   +2,287

    Personally, I think that if brain cells ever meet the Kardashians, the brain cells suffer an instant, yet very painful, death.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  6. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 894   +497

    Why would Putin attack a Russian TV show? Clearly it's the parents ensuring their kid wins. Why am I even explaining this.
  7. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    Amen, just like in the US elections when Russia made sure the right candidate won. Pretty sure the democracy is unharmed over there and we have Russians to thank for!
    TempleOrion likes this.
  8. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    99% it was the girl's parents. At state level, you don't get this level of involvement (I.e. banging it and let you know about it) unless Putin wants to give you a lesson, like the former Russian spy poisoned with polonium.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  9. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,467   +500

    I think Impudicus was pointing out how misleading the title to the article is. Obviously the Russian government wasn't targeting a TV show. But when you read "Russian bots attack again" you more than likely immediately associated it with a government attack. There isn't even any evidence presented that it was coded by Russians and/or perpetrated by Russian citizens. Feels very clickbaity to me.
  10. XtremeHammond

    XtremeHammond TS Booster Posts: 72   +51

    Very clickbaity as Channel One is the Russian state channel controlled by the government. And Channel One was suspicious of high percentage for one of the participants (Abramova) and hired Group-IB to check if there's something shady.
    The reason Channel One did it because Voice ratings began plummeting - viewers were disappointed with the results and they spread their disbelief of the winner in all social networks.
    TempleOrion, kombu and xxLCxx like this.
  11. Impudicus

    Impudicus TS Addict Posts: 138   +93

    That's exactly the point I was getting at. The whole demonizing of Russian is starting to feel like a big clickbait campaign.
    Unusual Kmc, Gmachine, kombu and 2 others like this.
  12. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,939   +1,489

    Gee I wonder why.
    TempleOrion and DaveBG like this.
  13. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    I believe the word is: PROPAGANDA.
    kombu likes this.
  14. bluetooth fairy

    bluetooth fairy TS Booster Posts: 91   +63

    TechSpot should dive deeper into technical part of the spamming. Every show accepting text messages must protect itself against it. The question is how to do it. This could be more interesting to hear.

    When some bots are used by somebody in Russia, in favour of someone in Russian show on their leading propaganda channel, let them f* do it freely if they want. Who the f* cares? They discredited themselves long time ago. It shouldn't have been even a news post here.
    TempleOrion, xxLCxx and kombu like this.
  15. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 817   +402

    Although the show is Russian, the rights belong to an international company. They aired it but they got responsibilities and obviously cant trash the name of the show which they dont own without a response from the owner.
    TempleOrion, xxLCxx and XtremeHammond like this.
  16. Unusual Kmc

    Unusual Kmc TS Rookie Posts: 18   +18

    Clickbaity title. Stop demonizing Russia, you haven't even presented any proof that it was Russia, only that it happened in Russia.
    xxLCxx likes this.
  17. bluetooth fairy

    bluetooth fairy TS Booster Posts: 91   +63

    One more reason that this topic is not inline with what is written on TS about page.

    TechSpot delivers breaking tech news and analysis to an audience of professionals and enthusiasts who crave for technical depth and want to learn about the latest digital trends.
    xxLCxx likes this.
  18. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Booster Posts: 118   +52

    Now the genie is out of the bottle and the public know about it (for real) there will always be doubt on all voting systems other than pen and paper .....and pen & paper will be in doubt in countries that don't follow the rules on Democracy like Britain lol
    xxLCxx likes this.
  19. JAmie71

    JAmie71 TS Rookie

    I would do the Same for my Daughter if I had the money and she had the Talent....

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