Wed Jul 10, 2024

ATHENA: An exposition on THe forEign informatioN mAnipulation and interference

Russia, China and other countries have exploited the Internet to wage campaigns of disinformation and interference in Europe to disrupt democratic processes for their perceived political and economic benefit. Since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has greatly increased its cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns against Ukraine and other countries in Europe. The EU understands the urgency of combatting such attacks against our infrastructures, economies, values and democracies.

ATHENA will contribute to Europe’s defence against foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI). It will examine at least 30 manifestations of FIMI in case studies, including the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) used by attackers. The consortium will analyse the behavioural and societal effects of FIMI. It will assess and develop countermeasures against the TTP. It will collect and process FIMI data, develop a knowledge graph, a disinformation analysis toolbox and dashboard showing the prevalence of FIMI and the countermeasures in action. ATHENA will conduct a comparative, eight-country analysis of legal and regulatory frameworks against FIMI and their shortcomings and where Member States and the EU should strengthen their policy framework. ATHENA will produce an easy-to-use questionnaire that anyone can use to decide whether they are confronted by FIMI.

We will go beyond state of the art by scanning the horizon for new instances of FIMI, for signs of the evolution in disinformation (as with deepfakes and chatbots). From the start of the project, ATHENA will engage stakeholders through interviews, workshops, a Stakeholder Board and a cluster of relevant projects. We will share knowledge with other stakeholders and provide training in countermeasures to universities and schools. The ATHENA consortium comprises experienced partners, including SMEs, universities, cybersecurity companies, fact-checkers and an association, from Ukraine to Ireland, from Sweden to Cyprus.

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