Bots manipulated the Russian final of the talent show & # 39; The Voice Kids & # 39;

Of course, bots are perhaps about American voters, but this is serious. This is The voice. Think of the children!

That is what Russian bots were doing, in fact: robo thinking of the children. Make that one child in particular – the daughter of pop singer Alsou and the rich businessman Yan Abramov, whom they voted robo with a suspiciously large margin to win the sixth season of Russia's popular TV talent show "The Voice Kids".

Mikella Abramova, 10, won with 56.5{e53874e4bbd58509048fd82fc905992bcdbedb43a73f551bb715cf467ce5a7fb} of the incoming votes.

The state channel that broadcasts the broadcast, Channel One TV, announced on Thursday that it had decided to cancel the results of the vote.

Channel One said it is working to improve the safety of the voting system – before the start of the next season – so this will never happen again.

What happened in the 6th season of "Voice of the Child" should be the first and last case when someone tries to control the choice of the audience.

He came to the decision after calling Group-IB to investigate the vote. Group-IB, an infosec company that analyzes threats originating from Russia and Eastern Europe and is an official partner of Interpol and Europol, announced the first results of that investigation on Thursday and said their investigation is ongoing.

Enormous text and call spamming

What it has found so far: analysis of text and spoken messages shows "massive automated SMS spamming" in favor of one of the participants of The Voice Kids. In other words, bots post a lot of robocalls and robo text messages.

More than 8,000 text messages were sent from around 300 phone numbers during the vote. The person who spammed the voting system used sequential telephone numbers to send automated votes.

The analysis of Group-IB showed that the person who did the & # 39; massive voice manipulation & # 39; had ended up in a technical error: a code fragment that was designed to automate the sending of messages in the text messages. One number in that roaming code indicated the telephone number of the participant – an indication that enabled Group IB to determine that all 300 telephone numbers after the 8,000 text messages were sent by one person, with the same rate plan.

As for the calls, Group-IB ranked the voting region & # 39; s and found one that, in particular, was unusually active after the start of the vote. Successive calls by bots in that region resulted in more than 30,000 calls for one participant.

According to the BBC, Russia's Kommersant Daily reported that other competitors each received fewer than 3,000 votes.