#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.
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.
Every day we hear of more stories of people’s Reputation getting smashed instantly online. On a personal level it just plain sucks, and causes mounds of heartache, headache, paperwork, and costs. To a business or a brand, there are risk mitigation and compliance issues, trademark defense costs, and reputations getting taken down, despite having been built up over years or decades.
It could be any trigger. Even, a mistaken identity or you share the same name as someone who gets in trouble.
Or it could be malicious from criminals, or cyber hackers looking to steal your identity, or file false tax returns to claim fake refunds, or to make it appear you were the one who did something when in reality it was someone pretending to be you.
The problem is multifaceted in that it can come from almost any angle, and happen at any time relatively instantly thanks to the linkages that exist between content, social media and search. Digijaks’ CEO has written about this triangulation before as it relates to cyber security and how we all need to look at the this inter-relationship, and it’s effects on all of us.
It is extremely important to understand that your real life – offline, not digital experiences now can and will be instantly transmitted by others, with or without your knowledge and with or without your consent.The little every day things, from getting coffee to getting dressed, to private conversations between two people are suddenly potential fodder for instant intent smearing, reputation trashing and persistent online harassment. Just because someone else had a smartphone on.
This is without writing harsh or bad emails, or saying inappropriate things, or doing illegal or immoral things. The above is just for the regular people who now find themselves in the daily potential trap of someone else deciding to make an internet mockery of them. Just Because. But then, there are the people who are out there willingly doing things to disrupt their families, their businesses, and themselves. There is an entire group of people doing these things every day, hoping no one will post their baggage online and trash them. Some even think it can never happen to them. They are above recrimination or above being outed for whatever proclivities they engage in.
Digijaks offers boutique solutions for high impact individuals, brands and organizations to deal with the combination of cyber security, social media and reputation management and control. We see and hear all kinds of stories. Those from people who are completely innocent and just get caught up in something a bad person did. Those from people who admit to making mistakes and now are working to try to fix the damage or prevent it from happening. Then there are those who just think things will never catch up to them. But they do.
The reality is, the ability to trash reputations, for others to *control your reputation* is all too real. Whether you like it or not.
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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