#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.
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.
That nasty little something that someone, a bot, or a person, or maybe both left for you overnight. It is a digital take down. A bad blog post. A social media meme that is being unanswered or purposely pumped up to discredit you, your company or organization or your brand. Or maybe it is a false allegation. Or paid fake bad reviews that your competitors put up.
Face it. The Internet is a hostile place for your reputation and your brand, whether that is personal, corporate or government. The control and management of your reputation start and end with you. As we enter 2015, it is worth paying attention to, in fact it is important to take stock of your online reputation, the management of it and the control of it. It is yours. Not anyone else.
The — Internet, social media, the cloud, mobility, bring your own device, artificial intelligence, autonomous computing etc etc — all are really cool buzz words. All come with prices to pay that include the constant need for personal, corporate and government level cyber security, reputation management and reputation control.
Our top 10 List of Ways That Cyber Security, Social Media and Reputation Management and Reputation Control all mesh together.
- Social Media — is the entrance point for viruses, malware, malformed links, phishing and learning enough about someone to turn around and destroy their reputation.
- Mobility — allows for instant access to social media, email, sms, cloud and phone, and video, as ways to tear down a brand or reputation. It can happen anywhere, at any time, by anyone around you holding a smartphone or smart watch or smart glasses.
- Cloud — allows people to store information quickly and easily. This can be for phishing, for cyber crime, for reputation destroying or extortion. Images and videos, poems and documents and your complete online profile can be easily harvested by smart people and or bots and then turned around against you. What information are you allowing out or putting out to make it easier to be attacked? Or easier to have your reputation tarnished or that of your brand?
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — While fun and easy for users and your employees BYOD brings a whole fruit basket worth of cyber security and reputation management and control issues along with it. BYOD allows users and employees to access the internet and social media channels without approval or notice from the employer. A reputation can be destroyed in an instant with a recorded conversation, a video, an errant email or sms, or worse corporate espionage and cyber crimes can be instituted easily with BYOD.
- Artificial Intelligence — The name alone. What does it mean? How can artificial intelligence (AI) bots or autonomous computing affect your cyber security and reputation management and control? In so many ways we are just beginning to understand.
- Lazy People — Sorry but many times the malware or the phishing or the destruction of reputation starts with someone simply being lazy, not having security and privacy settings attended to, and or worse letting someone else use their login credentials.
- Your Competition — They have access to the same tools you do. They can buy hackers, they can buy reputation destruction; they can attempt to steal your trade secrets; they will try to insert bad people into your organization at every level. (See 8 below.)
- Bad People — No good, no ethos or morals. These people do not care if they harm you. They seek to. These come in the form of social media contacts or email phishing all the way through HR, interviewing, shadowy financiers and content theft propagators from online goods. They will use any and every tool out there to disrupt your business, to destroy your reputation.
- Posting stupid pictures of yourself — on to any website regardless of how safe you *THINK* it is.
- Not checking the health and welfare of your own digital reputation and brand.
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