Two separate reports have come in this week detailing the increasing tide of cyber attacks intending to sow politically-motivated disruption through the spread of misinformation and by targeting specific political organizations and government bodies. Microsoft was first to the gate with news that its Digital Crimes Unit (bet you didn’t know they had that!) executed a court order to disrupt new website domains that were targeting 2 well-known conservative think tanks, three that were intended to act as possible spoofs of legitimate Senate services, and one targeting Microsoft itself. In a similar vein, fellow tech titan Facebook scrubbed more than 600 accounts, pages and groups this month that were created by both Iranian and Russian actors to disseminate misinformation aimed at creating divisive influence on a wide variety of political issues both here in the US as well as Latin America, the UK and the Middle East.
What does this mean for you
In case you haven’t been picking up what I’ve been laying down for months, the most important thing for anyone to do in the face of increasing campaigns of purposeful misinformation and repeated bombardments of fake emails and impostor websites is to always have your critical thinking cap square on your head. If you are reading a news story that seems controversial, perhaps corroborate its contents by checking other sources, including ones that might not be aligned with your particular viewpoint. Received an email with an attachment that seems important, but you can’t quite remember if the sender is someone you actually worked with? It’s probably because you didn’t work with them and the attachment is a fake. Always err on the side of skepticism. The volume of information we are receiving on a daily basis is being used against us as camouflage and the only way to combat it is to be ever vigilant and never, ever skimp on security. That means check and double-check the source (news, emails, attachments, everything), and if still in doubt, call in a second opinion from someone you trust to give you another point of view. And always make sure your malware protection is intact, your passwords are unique and your data is backed up.
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