Russian hackers fuelled Catherine, Princess of Wales, conspiracy theories, says security expert | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

The original video, posted to X, has been viewed more than 106 million times, and on TikTok there have been more than 14 billion views on videos about the Princess in just a month.

Prof Innes said that his disinformation research programme initially spotted Doppelgänger’s involvement by seeing a number of “suspicious spikes” online in comments talking about Ukraine and Russia under videos or posts about the Princess.

It was discovered that in a single day, 45 different accounts were found to be pushing and repurposing various theories related to the Princess, enough for them to link back to Doppelgänger.

Whitehall sources expressed concern last month that Russia as well as China and Iran were fuelling disinformation about the Princess to destabilise the nation.

Senior government figures said they feared that hostile states were behind the spread of wild conspiracy theories, and online rumours surrounding her health.

Describing the Russian disinformation-propagating group as similar to a “dark PR agency”, Prof Innes said the group first came to notice by spoofing media websites such as The Guardian and The New York Times.

He said these “imitation” websites looked very similar to the original, even using the same content, but that they would tweak it to their “geopolitical ends”.

‘Decay public trust’

It is thought that Doppelgänger could have a significant influence on upcoming political elections both at home and abroad, and the organisation has previously been called the “largest” and “most aggressively persistent” group online.

“Basically, the aim is to decay public trust in institutions, whether that be democracy and elections, whether that be government, all sorts of kinds of institutions,” Prof Innes said.

“And of course monarchy in the UK is an important institution, so it’s about trying to just degrade public trust over time, and also to decrease the ability of people to know what to trust online.”


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