Mobile Political Spam Surges Threefold For 2024 Election

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Election 2024 mobile political spam volumes have seen a threefold increase compared with 2022 midterms. 

The data comes from recent research by Proofpoint, which also suggests that US voters increasingly turn to digital platforms for information, making them more susceptible to cybercriminal activities. 

With 60% of US adults preferring digital media for news and 86% using smartphones, tablets or computers, the reliance on digital channels is evident. Additionally, nearly the entire US voting population (97%) has access to mobile messaging.

Despite the trust many place in mobile messaging, Proofpoint said the rise of smishing, impersonation and unwanted spam is undermining this confidence. 

While voters are generally aware of fake news on social media, fewer reportedly recognize the significant risks posed by mobile messaging and email impersonation tactics. Notably, election-related smishing attacks have surged by more than 7% in the past nine months compared to the previous period.

The increase in mobile political messaging, utilized by campaigns and interest groups, has also paralleled a rise in malicious activities. 

A substantial 240% spike in unwanted political messaging was observed within 48 hours of former President Donald J Trump’s guilty verdict in his “hush money” trial, with report volumes reaching the tens of millions.

Read more on election-related cybersecurity topics: NCSC Expands Election Cybersecurity to Safeguard Candidates and Officials

Voters are advised to protect themselves against these risks. Proofpoint suggested being cautious towards unsolicited messages, especially those requesting urgent action. 

“This election season, voters need to proactively protect themselves against impersonation attacks. And mobile operators need to protect their end users, too,” reads a blog post published by the company today. “In fact, we must all maintain a healthy level of skepticism.”

To reduce exposure to malicious mobile messaging, voters should avoid opening attachments or clicking on links in such messages. Instead, entering known URLs directly into browsers is recommended. Careful examination of all election-related digital messages is also essential to confirm their legitimacy.

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