• Fake News Exacerbates Disease Outbreaks

    The worry that fake news might be used to distort political processes or manipulate financial markets is well established. But less studied is the possibility that misinformation spread could harm human health, especially during the outbreak of an infectious disease.

  • Why the 2020 Election Will Be a Mess: It’s Just Too Easy for Putin

    FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the House Judiciary Committee last week that Russia’s disinformation campaign to interfere in the 2020 election is underway. Alex Finley, John Sipher, and Asha Rangappa write that this isn’t surprising, given that Russian active measures are about the long game: “Ex-KGB officer and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal was never simply to place a Manchurian candidate in the Oval Office, but rather to permanently destabilize the West, damage U.S. credibility, and undermine those very things that make democratic countries special.” They add: “We can be confident that “the 2020 election cycle will provide the Kremlin opportunities to pursue further subversion, disinformation, and deception.”

  • Social Media and Vaccine Misinformation

    People who rely on social media for information were more likely to be misinformed about vaccines than those who rely on traditional media, according to a new study of vaccine knowledge and media use. The researchers found that up to 20 percent of respondents were at least somewhat misinformed about vaccines. Such a high level of misinformation is “worrying” because misinformation undermines vaccination rates, and high vaccination rates are required to maintain community immunity, the researchers said.

  • Tool Identifies Source of Errors Caused by Software Updates

    We’ve all shared the frustration — software updates that are intended to make our applications run faster inadvertently end up doing just the opposite. These bugs, dubbed in the computer science field as performance regressions, are time-consuming to fix since locating software errors normally requires substantial human intervention. Researchers and computer scientists have designed a tool to identify the source of errors caused by software updates.

  • How I Hacked the Government (It Was Easier than You May Think)

    Max Weiss, Harvard Class of 2020, never intended to hack the government. His discovery of how easy it is to do — outlined in a new paper he authored — came of the best of intentions. He used bots to show an agency its website vulnerability.

  • Building the Cybersecurity Workforce of the Future

    This year marked the third Cybercore Summer Camp for area high school students and teachers, and the first year that cybersecurity was included in the STEM Summer Camp for younger students at the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI). It was also Idaho’s first year as a statewide participant in the national Girls Go CyberStart competition. And 2019 saw two area high school students spend the summer as cybersecurity interns at the laboratory. INL offers a recap of all the ways “INL is building the cybersecurity workforce of the future.”

  • Out-of-Context Photos Are a Powerful Low-Tech form of Misinformation

    When you think of visual misinformation, maybe you think of deepfakes – videos that appear real but have actually been created using powerful video editing algorithms. The creators edit celebrities into pornographic movies, and they can put words into the mouths of people who never said them. But the majority of visual misinformation that people are exposed to involves much simpler forms of deception. One common technique involves recycling legitimate old photographs and videos and presenting them as evidence of recent events.

  • Russia Knows Just Who to Blame for the Coronavirus: America

    The coronavirus outbreak has been accompanied by an avalanche of conspiracy theories about the outbreak. “But in Russia the misinformation has been particularly pointed. Russia’s spin doctors have capitalized on the fear and confusion of the epidemic to point the blame at the United States,” Amy McKinnong writers. McKinnon notes that the Russian messaging fits a now well-established pattern in that it doesn’t look to persuade audiences of a single alternative truth, because “That would take effort, planning, and persuasion.” Rather, Kremlin propaganda specialists produce “a steady stream of underdeveloped, sometimes contradictory conspiracy theories intended to exhaust and confuse viewers, making them question the very notion of objective truth itself.”

  • Researchers Identify Security Vulnerabilities in Voting App

    In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using internet and mobile technology to increase access to the voting process. At the same time, computer security experts caution that paper ballots are the only secure means of voting. Mobile voting application could allow hackers to alter individual votes and may pose privacy issues for users.

  • Hackers Could Shut Down Satellites – or Turn Them into Weapons

    The race to put satellites in space is on, with Amazon, U.K.-based OneWeb and other companies chomping at the bit to place thousands of satellites in orbit in the coming months. These new satellites have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of everyday life – from bringing internet access to remote corners of the globe to monitoring the environment and improving global navigation systems. Amid all the fanfare, a critical danger has flown under the radar: the lack of cybersecurity standards and regulations for commercial satellites, in the U.S. and internationally.

  • U.S. Charges Huawei with Conspiracy to Steal Trade Secrets, Racketeering

    Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei and a number of its subsidiaries were charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets and racketeering in a federal indictment made public Thursday. The charges also accuse the company of flouting U.S. sanctions by operating subsidiaries in North Korea and Iran. The indictment represents the latest U.S. effort to clamp down on a Chinese telecom company that American officials say has plundered the intellectual property of its rivals in a bid for market dominance.

  • Senior Huawei Official Acknowledges Ability to Clandestinely Access Mobile Networks

    A senior Huawei official has conceded that the company can clandestinely access users’ mobile networks. “Huawei itself has provided evidence that it builds backdoors into its products,” Herb Lin writes. “In particular, the [Wall Street] Journal [on 12 February 2012] quoted a senior Huawei official as saying that network access without operator permission ‘is extremely implausible and would be discovered immediately.’ This statement is extremely significant in understanding what Huawei equipment can and cannot do.” Lin adds: “Huawei has not said that network access without operator permission is technically impossible—only that it is implausible and would be discovered immediately. These are very different claims.”

  • Hackers: A Psychological Profile

    Whether cracking digital security for good or ill, hackers tend to be people who are manipulative, deceitful, exploitative, cynical and insensitive, according to research. The study analyzed the psychological profiles of college students in computer science and management to see which personality traits led to three different kinds of computer hacking: white hat, gray hat and black hat.

  • White Supremacist Propaganda Distribution Hit All-Time High in 2019

    White supremacist propaganda distribution more than doubled in 2019 over the previous year, making it the highest year on record for such activity in the United States. The data in a new report shows a substantial increase of incidents both on- and off-campus. A total of 2,713 cases of literature distribution – an average of more than four per day – were reported nationwide, compared to 1,214 in 2018. This is nearly 160 percent increase in U.S. campus propaganda incidents during the fall semester.

  • Digital Authoritarianism: Finding Our Way Out of the Darkness

    From Chinese government surveillance in Hong Kong and Xinjiang to Russia’s sovereign internet law and concerns about foreign operatives hacking the 2020 elections, digital technologies are changing global politics — and the United States is not ready to compete, Naazeen Barma, Brent Durbin, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor write. The United States and like-minded countries must thus develop a new strategic framework to combat the rise of high-tech illiberalism, but “as a first step, U.S. government officials need to understand how authoritarian regimes are using these tools to control their populations and disrupt democratic societies around the world.”