• Calling Off Iowa’s “Digital Caucuses” Is a Wise Display of Caution

    Caution and restraint are not known as the hallmarks of the digital revolution. Especially when there’s the admirable possibility of increasing participation by going digital, the temptation to do so is strong—and rarely resisted. But a decision reportedly taken by the Democratic National Committee, however, presents a significant display of caution that deserves both attention and praise. “Showing restraint usually isn’t exciting or flashy,” Joshua Geltzer writes. “But it can be admirable. And, here, organizations like the DNC that take these steps deserve our collective applause for erring on the side of caution, especially in a world replete with cybersecurity and election interference threats.”

  • Ransomware Attacks on Cities Are Rising – Authorities Must Stop Paying Out

    A ransomware campaign that targeted twenty-three U.S. cities across Texas has raised serious concerns about the vulnerability of local governments and public services to cyber-attacks. These events come not long after similar attacks on governmental and business organizations in Indiana, Florida and elsewhere. They reflect a general shift in ransomware tactics from “spray and pray” attacks on large numbers of individual consumers, to “big game hunting”, which targets organizations, usually through people in positions of power.

  • Integrating EMM & APP Vetting Solutions for Maximum Security

    A new study released by the DHS S&T describes a continuous approach to mobile app vetting that integrates the capabilities of enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions with app vetting tools to improve the security of mobile devices.

  • A College Reading List for the Post-Truth Era

    “We live in a time beset with belittlement of science, hostility toward expertise and attacks on traditional democratic institutions,” Michael T. Nietzel, president emeritus of Missouri State University, writes. “It’s a post-truth period where conspiracy theories and crackpot ideas flourish. If the facts conflict with someone’s sense of identity or political ideology, then the facts are disposable. They can be replaced with notions that feel better or reverberate on social media.” What is the best way to achieve the goal of making young students less susceptible to dangerous s stupidities and toxic conspiracy theories? Nietzel has a suggestion — although he admits it is increasingly rare as an academic expectation: serious reading. He offers seven recent books which champion reason over emotion, distinguish facts from fallacies, and enumerate the dangers of ignoring the truth.

  • Instagram's New Fact-Checking Tool May Have Limited Impact on Disinformation

    Researchers worry that a new feature giving Instagram users the power to flag false news on the platform won’t do much to head off efforts to use disinformation to sow political discord in 2020. The role of Instagram in spreading political disinformation took center stage in a pair of Senate reports in December, which highlighted how Russian state operatives used fake accounts on the platforms, masquerading as members of activist groups like Black Lives Matter during and well after the 2016 election.

  • How to Measure Cybersecurity

    Many experts agree that there are no universally recognized, generally accepted metrics by which to measure and describe cybersecurity improvements, and that, as a result, decision-makers are left to make choices about cybersecurity implementation based on qualitative measures rather than quantitative ones. Robert Taylo argues that the “search for quantitative metrics and dismissal of qualitative metrics ignores the dynamic nature of the challenge of ensuring cybersecurity, as well as the critical role of processes and procedures. Cybersecurity is a matter not just of the equipment and tools in place but also of how the equipment and tools are used by people, and how the organization ensures that the equipment and tools and methods of use are kept up to date. Qualitative measures that are discernible and reproducible are and will continue to be essential in helping to guide sound investment and operational decisions.”

  • NotPetya Ushered in a New Era of Malware

    NotPetya ushered in a new era of implant-enabled warfare where public opinion is as much the target as traditional IT systems. This wasn’t “hack and leak” or “inauthentic amplification” on social media. This is information operations by using malware to create a narrative, and shows what the future of conflict looks like: one where malware not only disrupts our business operations but also targets our minds and influences media coverage. NotPetya created significant downtime and a whopping $10 billion in damages, but its most subversive impact was how it deceived the public.

  • Facebook, Google, Twitter and the “Digital Disinformation Mess”

    The preliminary results of Facebook’s long-awaited “bias” audit are out. The key takeaway? Everyone is still unhappy. The report is little more than a formalized catalog of six categories of grievances aired in Republican-led congressional hearings over the past two years. It doesn’t include any real quantitative assessment of bias. There are no statistics assessing the millions of moderation decisions that Facebook and Instagram make each day. The results are all the more remarkable because the audit was an exhaustive affair, the fruit of about a year of research led by former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, encompassing interviews with scores of conservative lawmakers and organizations. “Despite the time and energy invested, the conspicuous absence of evidence within the audit suggests what many media researchers already knew: Allegations of political bias are political theater,” Renee DiResta wites.

  • How a “Political Astroturfing” App Coordinates Pro-Israel Influence Operations

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been a global battle, fought by hundreds of proxies in dozens of national capitals by way of political, economic, and cultural pressure. As the internet has evolved, so have the tools used to wage this information struggle. The latest innovation — a pro-Israel smartphone app that seeds and amplifies pro-Israel messages across social media — saw its first major test in May 2019. It offered a glimpse of the novel methods by which future influence campaigns will be conducted and information wars won.

  • Fake News Makes People “Remember” False Memories – Study

    A new study found that people can form false memories after reading fake news stories, especially if those stories support their biases and own political beliefs. Participants in the study did not reconsider their memory even after being told that some of the stories they read could be fabricated with several even recounting details not included in the stories. “Memory is a reconstructive process and we are vulnerable to suggestion distorting our recollections, without our conscious awareness,” the lead researcher told BBC.

  • Mapping Model Tracks How Hate Spreads and Adapts Online

    Online hate thrives globally through self-organized, scalable clusters that interconnect to form resilient networks spread across multiple social media platforms, countries and languages, according to new research. Researchers developed a mapping model to track how these online hate clusters thrive. The model outlines challenges to dismantling online hate groups worldwide.

  • Despite YouTube Policy Update, Anti-Semitic, White Supremacist Channels Remain

    For years, YouTube has officially prohibited content which promoted or condoned violence or incited hatred against individuals or groups based on core characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, and religion. In June 2019 it updated that policy with specific prohibitions against ideologies like white supremacy, which asserted the superiority of one group in order to justify discriminating against or persecuting other groups. An analysis by ADL’s Center on Extremism found that a significant number of channels on YouTube’s platform continue to disseminate anti-Semitic and white supremacist content despite the company’s June 2019 crackdown on hate speech.

  • Concerns Growing that China's Influence Operations Getting Bolder

    The U.S. intelligence community has warned that the battle for information dominance has been joined. Until now, much of the focus on been on Russia for its use of social media to meddle in a number of Western elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and, more recently, the 2018 congressional elections. But top U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly warned Russia is not alone, and that other U.S adversaries would be using lessons from Moscow’s successes for their own purposes.

  • Russia’s and China’s Political Warfare Campaigns: How the West Can Prevail

    The United States and its allies are facing an unprecedented challenge: Russia and China, two authoritarian states possessing substantial human, economic, technological, and other resources; armed with conventional and nuclear forces which, in many respects, rival those held by the Western allies; and working actively to undermine the core interests of the West. Their operations are designed to subvert the cohesion of the Western allies and their partners; erode their economic, political, and social resilience; and undermine the West’s strategic positions in key regions. The Russian and Chinese regimes have made substantial progress towards these goals during the last two decades without conducting conventional military operations. Rather, Moscow and Beijing have employed sophisticated political warfare strategies and a wide range of mostly non-military instruments.

  • Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America

    Ransomware is hardly new, but it is in fashion. Two years ago such attacks were still relatively rare. But now they are far more targeted, and as companies and towns have shown an increased willingness to pay ransoms, criminals have turned to new and more powerful forms of encryption and more ingenious ways of injecting the code into computer networks. Only this summer did the United States begin to see multiple simultaneous attacks, often directed at government websites that are ill-defended.