Fake news, disinformation and cybersecurity

The spread of fake news and the rise of disinformation is plaguing the modern world by destroying the very fabric that is keeping our society safe and democracy standing.

Separating fact from fiction has never been harder, and with the popularity of social media misleading information is spreading like wildfire. It is swaying elections, distorting truth and putting people in harm’s way. So, what can be done to ensure there is balance between free speech and the accuracy of information shared? We asked a panel of experts to discuss this further in a live Tweet Chat as part of the wider Security Serious campaign Action Against Disinformation.

The panel:

  • Neira Jones – Fraud, Cybersecurity and FinTech Consultant
  • Madeline Howard – Socio-Technical Engagement Manager at Cygenta
  • Tony Morbin – IT Security Guru Editor
  • Eoin Keary – CEO/Founder at Edgescan
  • Javvad Malik – Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4

Firstly, we asked the panel what Fake News meant to them and had they ever been duped. Seeing as these are professionals from a variety of roles within the cybersecurity industry, it was interesting to see their reactions with some even admitting to being duped:

Funnily enough, a hoax story regarding the re-formation of Highstreet retailer Woolworths was circulating in the news and on social media on the same day as the tweet chat which clearly shows the reality of fake news today:

But what role do algorithms, bots, and trolls play in the spread of fake news and disinformation? They are often considered the devious messengers designed to mislead the masses…

The media landscape has also changed, and we seem to have transcended into a culture whereby news has started to be driven by content designed to draw responses and interest

from the public which would encourage them to then click on the titles of the aforesaid pages. This has quickly introduced the click-bait culture which has certainly blurred what we now view as ‘news’.

When we think of fake news and disinformation some will assume it just affects the mainstream media but in truth it can impact any industry. So, has it crept into the cybersecurity sector and what lengths have our panellists gone too in stopping it?

Given the negative impact fake news has, should it be viewed as a cybersecurity threat? When you observe how it is used, it can damage the reputation of an individual, organisation or country while also having the ability to manipulate opinions – both of which can lead to wrongfully harming the entity in question either physically or financially. So, what role can the cybersecurity sector play as a whole in preventing its spread?

While it appears further education and raising awareness to the issue of fake news is important in thwarting it, what would be the best solution to better regulate what information and news is posted to the public?

To close out the discussion, we wanted to find out how much fake news has impacted the notion of free speech. It’s a dilemma we currently face, and while we agree it’s a balancing act, it seems to be spiralling out of control as the demand for more information grows…but is it necessarily the right information that is getting published and how much is being construed as opinion?

Lastly, will we see a time where Free Speech exists without Fake News…most have an optimistic view:

While we deal with the global pandemic, it is clear that we are also fighting against the virtual disease that is fake news & disinformation. Thankfully there are those that are making a stand and the Action Against Disinformation campaign as part of Security Serious Week 2020 has brought the topic to the forefront to make more people aware. Education is key and source checking can go a long way to ensuring you are well informed. To view all the content related to Security Serious Week 2020, click here.

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