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Cybersecurity experts warn Russian bots are targeting universities

Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 18:29:28-05

We've been hearing a lot about how Russian bots manipulated what we saw on Twitter leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Now a surprise twist in the on-going battle against internet bots.

Cybersecurity experts are now warning that higher education is in the crosshairs.

With large student bodies that are very active on social media, CSU student Adam Ross can see why it's a perfect match.

"Going to mislead a lot of young, impressionable people," said Ross.

CSU is working to prevent that from happening.

"In terms of universities, we really can do more, and I think we're certainly going to start to do more here at CSU," said Brian Ray, director of CSU's Center for Cyber Security.

His advice to students or anyone who comes across quickly trending topics is simple.

"Look critically at it, ask yourself hard questions and do a little digging," said Ray.

Ray said the focus moving forward will be to beef-up education efforts to combat bots.

“Don't immediately retweet something just because 10 or 100 of your friends have done it or because it's at the top of the trending list," said Ray.

Communication professor Edward Horowitz said the stakes are high for everyone.

"I think we're getting to a period of time when things are going to be very chaotic because companies, businesses, universities are going to be getting attack messages from these bots," said Horowitz.

Horowitz wants to see social media platforms address the growing risk.

"I think it will be interesting to see whether legislators whether in the state of Ohio or in Congress are going to be pushing them to make these changes," said Horowitz.

Until then, students like Lorette Alamir know they have to be cautious.

"Usually I look at a lot of sources before I come to a conclusion," said Alamir.