#Digitaldiplomacy and #Cybersecurity on a Rough Patch in 2017.
The last several years have seen an explosion of digital diplomacy tools and techniques. This is driven by an ongoing growth in technology platforms; and social media combined with the increased numbers of world Governments adopting open data and open government principles. There has also been a parallel explosion in fake social media, fake news and fake information being propagated globally.
The effect of the combined forces is that cybersecurity is now playing an even more vital role in digital diplomacy. Where digital diplomacy just a few years back was between recognized principals of Governments, now there are lots of other players trying to make that communication much more failure prone.
Additionally we now have leaders using Twitter and other tools to communicate directly with each other and or to directly go around the news media. Just in the first few months of 2017 alone, we have witnessed multiple world leaders using Twitter to speak in ways that are different from the stated policies of their countries, or to put pressure on other countries through this most public of mediums.
There have been recent successes and failures. I wrote about some of these a few years back. We have also seen a tremendous growth in what I call “anti digital diplomacy” thru the concerted use of fake social media accounts, fake news websites, and fake statistics designed to make the role of real diplomats much harder. While some of this is innocuous, much of it is organized and part of larger cyber deception plots being run by larger nation states.
Western European countries are currently experiencing the same types of digital attacks on their electoral systems, including the use of selective leaking of compromised materials that the US experienced in 2016. Which means that hacking, and hackers have been deeply involved too. One does not get compromised materials without someone first doing the exfiltration of the information from its original home.
Which brings the question of what role cybersecurity needs to play in digital diplomacy? It is a dynamic situation now with asymmetrical threats and increased attack surface area affecting the very direct communications that digital diplomacy allows.
Governments, Diplomats and the media alike need to be trained and continually updated on how to spot fake accounts, fake news, fake websites, and how to ensure only officially verified information is being transmitted through the digital diplomacy channels. Additionally steps need to be taken on dealing with constituents and the news media to ensure that fake information is put down quickly with the truth and facts to back it up.
Diplomats across the globe have already been caught up in re-tweeting fake news or getting trolled by fake accounts. But there needs to be a verification role too, that is played with the public, especially in terms of proving the falsity of fake information being purposely distributed.
Further, steps need to be taken to lock down accounts with two factor authentication, very strong passwords and strict internal organizational controls on who uses the digital diplomacy tools and how. Cybersecurity needs to be incorporated into every decision and every level of communications, both internally and externally.
Finally, Governments and Companies around the world need to adopt a rapid response routine to deal with both fake news and fake information coming from non-official sources, as well as from official sources or official twitter accounts. The World now has several leaders who seem to want to try to use Twitter to go around their local politics and news media and or tell the world an un-true or incoherent story. If Diplomats are not ready to respond to falsities or cyber-attack driven leaks quickly, then they will be playing a constant game of catch up. True for the news media and global citizens alike.
The Internet can be an upside down, sideways kind of place when your own Reputation is at stake. Topsy-turvy doesn’t even begin to cut it when your personal cyber security has been breached, leading to a reputation loss, disaster or ongoing problems.
2016 has shown how vulnerable every person who uses the internet, social media, online banking, email, websites, mobile apps and even IoT devices. Almost daily we hear about this company or that corporation getting hacked, even government agencies. But how often do you think about your own personal digital space? Your online reputation? Your personal cyber security with regard to online banking, social media, emails, and all the other information you are generating?
The current popular mythology that most hacking of reputations is caused because of 3rd party cyber breaches or loss of information not in the control directly of each person. While this is a big driver, there is an equally big driver of small players, disgruntled individuals, and just plain mean people.
These nasty people who delight in doxxing people, in revealing what was previously not revealed, and at the higher levels, ex spouses, former business partners, parties in lawsuits, and even corporate trolls can take down someone’s reputation, often hard earned over year, in a matter of seconds.
Digijaks CEO Alan W. Silberberg has written and gives speeches about the crucial link between personal cyber security, social media and search.
Most people think they are just sitting ducks, waiting around till some hacker or some angry person goes after them, and then will deal with it after the fact.
This is 100% the wrong approach. You need to be pro-active, and this is true for your reputation, that of your business, and that of your family all at the same time.
Below are some simple steps to protect your own reputation online and simultaneously practice good personal cyber security hygiene.
When you think of Cyber Security you probably think about your iphone getting hacked, or your email, or your companies servers, or your credit card, or bank card or health care, or banking, or government information plus so many others…
But did you ever stop to think about how a huge chunk of all the data populating all those things actually gets there? Not in the sense of how Google asks prospective employees to describe how the internet works. But close. Think Space.
Satellites are massive growth industry, for both government and business alike. We have scaled globally from a situation 20 years ago where only a handful of countries could afford to mount in orbit operations on even one satellite.
Now there are literally thousands of satellites in space with more and more getting launched into either permanent or semi permanent orbits — along with resulting real space junk and debris following closely along.
There is a correlation of increased launches with smaller launch packages, increasingly smaller and lighter satellite platforms and lower cost; with massive increased consumption and transport of data in both up and down link; and other bands.
All of this has led to a reset of the cyber security needs surrounding ground stations, launch facilities, terrestrial platforms, satellites, rockets, and of course the data. There are multiple types of data flowing into the typical modern communications satellite. Up-link, down-link controls and management software, then data payloads of voice, video, data, etc + then often reversed in direction again. Add to this the security levels, the control levels and maintenance levels — and there is a digital river of information coming in and out of every satellite, ground station and in between.
This is one of the major targets for global cyber war efforts by governments as well as cartel hacker groups and other groups seeking only power and information to then bring money.
One of the key weakpoints is the people on the ground and their BYOD (Bring your own device) methods + practices – whether sanctioned or not.
Along the same lines is the social engineering side of hacking and cyber war and how people’s pictures, social media posts, location tags, and other digital exhausts can be combined in a detailed matrix for an attacker to figure out organizational patterns, phrases, colloquialisms and other ways to use psychology against us.
Another key weakpoint is that many of the cyber security protocols designed for this global data transfer every milli-second is that they are simply outdated and not up to the task of modern efforts to hack and crack this technology and its safeguards and firewalls.
Follow my remarks in a few more weeks to hear more on the very real risks being posed by the explosion in satellites and data flowing between Earth and Space. Indeed, Global Cyber Security is on Earth + Space.
The Panama Papers as released this past week are a really huge data dump, in fact one much larger in scale than that of Wikileaks, and the largest to date in history.
The project that resulted in this massive public disclosure, was essentially a cyber security lapse leading to a breach. Following the breach, data exfiltration was executed through leveraging a long known critical failure in the operating system and email servers that were used by the law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
Not only are the Panama Papers a stunning example of a hack that resulted in massive data exfiltration; thus consequently leading to a global reputation breach. But they are also representative of a slow to change cyber security environment in law firms, corporations and organizations globally.
Drupal, a widely used language for databases and other programs has been constantly been providing critical updates since it’s inception. Users of Drupal have to make the choice to keep their systems up to date, or as in this case, not.
The utter lack of cyber security protocols like updating a server, or dealing with over 25 issued critical updates to the operating system/servers bring to mind other major hacks like the Target Corporation hack where 60,000 alerts were ignored by corporate IT staff. This is the opposite of what cyber security protocols would dictate.
Law firm IT staff need to be amongst the first to adopt these basics; but often times are not, and many international law firms have mediocre to poor network security. In that area, the Panama Papers could be any law firm, anywhere. The reputation loss suffered by the cyber security lapse and breach could be any law firm’s clients, anywhere.
Digijaks has been working with clients for years to address the undeniable link between cyber security and reputation control. The Panama Papers simply serve as one more reason why these issues are so connected and so important to both people and organizations.
noun: conundrum; plural noun: conundrums
a confusing and difficult problem or question.
“one of the most difficult conundrums for the experts”
This is the conundrum of the digital age.
One one hand executives of a company will be the first to state they think their systems are secure, and if there are any problems they are small.
Maybe they think their information, data and business relationships are not important to hackers because, “too small”, “not on radar screen”, or “we have nothing worth taking.”
But both of these are clearly conundrums:
But- and this is actually more like a because — Organizations have to think and act pro-actively when it comes to cyber security and privacy. True for people too. If you think you have no cyber weaknesses than you do. If you think you have nothing to lose, than you do. If you think no one is interested in your organization because it is too small or not on the radar screen, than you are wrong, and they are.
Now is actually the time to assess your organization’s situation, and that of your people too. Do it now before you get hacked or breached. Because you will get hacked or breached. Be prepared. Don’t be caught behind a truck that just ran over your business and people.
My company Digijaks sees a lot of these types of issues with clients. Preventive medicine works, in healthcare and cyber security. Both need daily hygiene and maintenance and both also need updates, checkins and repair work too.
Ah, the Internet of Things.
Just the sound of it sends thrills, chills and huge question marks through both technologists and regular people alike.
Just think, you can already do the following:
I could go on with this list. But why bother?
The Internet of Things, or IOT as it is called in the media, by analysts and techies alike is an amorphous concept and does not easily translate into everyday speak for the average person.
There are cybersecurity concerns with the overlapping inter-connectedness that are growing exponentially by the month; as more and more devices come on line, get connected to the Internet. Many if not most have little to zero security protocols built in.
There is no current “IOT cybersecurity standard” or anything close. As a result, the apps and tools that seemingly make your life so easy, are in most probability leaking, if not pouring personal information about you or your family onto the internet in ways you may or may not be aware of.
There are reputation control and reputation management issues arising from both the above mentioned inter-connectedness as well as from some basic common sense things that come from having devices connected to the Internet and talking to “home” or each other in ways that also reveal identity, location and other personal information. Some of these IOT apps and tools even tweet or post other social updates for you as reminders, alerts and other pushed out information into public or semi public arenas.
So ask yourself 5 Major IOT for Reputation Questions:
We live in a hyper-connected world that brings the globe to you; and you and your family to the globe at equally fast speeds. While on one hand, any one of us can access the internet, through any number of tools, platforms, technology and software and almost any combination too. But on the other hand the internet can and does access us, and all of our information, every minute of every day. Probably more than you and your family access the internet.
One thing that is growing in need and in reality is the international and cross cultural aspects of Cybersecurity. For example, businesses and governments alike in the US and in Israel face similar challenges within similar robust telecom and economic environments. 15 years ago the idea of US and Israeli Cybersecurity companies working together seemed remote or exotic. Speak to anyone in Cybersecurity, and it won’t take long for the Israeli Cybersecurity community to come up. True for Venture Capital in Israel too.
Dr. Orit Mossinson, a Venture Capitalist + founder of Dalai VC – A VC firm that specializes in Cybersecurity – had this to say: “Bringing Israeli Cybersecurity companies through capitalization to becoming the leading edge of how to combat cyberwar efforts, is just beginning. Over the next few years there is going to be massive growth in this unique space.”
My company Digijaks is constantly working with businesses and governments on Cybersecurity. What applies to big business or governments applies to people and families mostly too. That is true in the USA, Israel, UK, Canada, Japan, Singapore, etc, or any nation considered 1st world with full internet access.
Within as long as it takes to blink an eye, you or your family can get caught up in a Cybersecurity breach leading to a Reputation and search breach. It does not take much, and is not the sole domain of big companies being targeted. Ask yourself, do you have wifi? Is it secure? Do you have devices? Run a business? Pay taxes? Do Online Banking? Any of the above could be the entry into your life by a hacker.
This might sound hard to believe in the era of downloadable feature films in a few seconds and the huge amounts of data coming “down” the “pipes” to our devices. But for every bit of data coming in; we are pouring it right back through apps, games, web browsing, file uploading, liking, tweeting, sharing, and videos and not to mention the IoT — as in your tweeting fridge and internet sharing toaster. Don’t even get started on the lack of cybersecurity for IoT globally. Because there is none. Or very little of note.
There just is not any in most of those devices or apps yet. Don’t kid yourself or mistakenly think you or your families are not being monitored and watched through the IoT. The more devices you have connected, the scale of magnitude of potential monitoring and watching is exponential.
Several years ago the digital exhaust of the average first world person with access to the internet was less than 1000 data points per person roughly. Now scale upwards and it is closer to 20,000 data points per person in their digital exhaust. How many companies are tracking these, and or reselling them to other groups? How many governments? How many hacking groups? Extortionists? Kidnappers? Digital Money Robbers?
When we get invited to address groups about Cybersecurity, they always want to know about their specific devices. Is this safe? Is that dangerous? Cybersecurity is one part hardened data, encrypted data and secure data transport. It is also one part human. Increasingly so, with socially engineered attacks such as phishing and drive by malware hosted on social media or in apps. The human element is about training employees, about families working with each other to be private and safe online and is about the fact that humans will and can get tricked by their own emotions and desires. This is what makes social engineered attacks so pernicious.
They are not about weak data points or lack of encryption. They are about our human frailty and how it gets exploited by digital tormenters.
Think about it. What if a Stuxnet-like custom designed cyber war tool; were to take out all the SCADA devices in a particular city? Or take out a particular industry like oil and gas or electrical generation; or at 50 hospitals at once? The problem is every unsecured SCADA device is also listed in multiple places to be publicly found on the internet, not even the dark web. 7 million + devices, terminals, industrial control centers, power plants, factories, utility grids and transportation and information networks are to be found just by searching.
Bring the best of the best together and create new environments in which they can work together to stop a global scourge of cybersecurity breaches and the resultant reputation and search breaches that follow every attack. True in the USA and true in Israel. The world is looking at the very beginnings of a 3rd World War. This one is invisible mostly, harms people in real life sometimes, yet is being conducted by numerous countries, companies, and criminals all at once against each other. Now is the time to start combining the best of the best and the brightest.
Many people must feel the 2015 holiday break could not have arrived soon enough what with terrorism, crazy weather and other events that get covered rightly or wrongly in social media. While these can be scary and confusing times, they can also be times to educate, learn and help one another to understand a new reality we are all living in now.
There are specific tactics and strategies for understanding how live events unfold in social media and these can be instructive to the general public about what you are seeing and when, during events like these past weeks that we have all experienced. Real life events almost always flow to the internet in a micro second. Knowing how to tell the difference between truth and fiction could be critical to saving your own life of that of your family in a real life emergency that is also happening on social media.
So below are general truths about live events that unfold in a digital realm and in real life.
I created an emergency social media list on twitter with accounts that are both trusted and real. I suggest you do the same and keep that list handy.
Make a list of your local real life emergency providers websites, twitter accounts and other social media tools. Use them to verify information and dispel rumors.