Fake news will lead to cyber war

March 21, 2018
To put it bluntly, fake news is a form of cyber attack and will only grow significantly in 2018 and beyond

Fake news - we have all heard about it, but sometimes struggle to grasp the extent of its impact.

With the next generation moving to online and social media as the go-to news source, and a good chunk of what is put out on social media being fake, it is left up to the reader to determine whether the information is true or not.  When people start to believe everything they read, it makes the world a very unpredictable place. With no indicators on the source or truth of the news on social media, many countries, democracies and nation states will struggle with transparency and could become politically unstable. It only takes one fake news story from a trustworthy source to devalue the entire news feed, forcing us to question what is real and what is not. 

To put it bluntly, fake news is a form of cyber attack and will only grow significantly in 2018 and beyond. 

Fake News Leads to Cyberwar

Information cyber wars have become a major disruption to our way of life, filling our daily news and feeds with fake information to influence our actions and change the outcome of important and vital decisions. Rather than focusing on important citizen’s needs, such as taxes, healthcare and education, many governments are now embroiled in trust and transparency challenges caused by the continuous disruption from cyber attacks.    

Many recent cyber incidents have been stealing huge amounts of personal and sensitive information that is then being used to pursue and influence our nation’s decision making. When a cyber attack from another nation-state tries to influence our way of life, our society, or the outcome of our democracy, should this be considered an act of war? 

Large troll factories and botnet farms are using our stolen personal information to guarantee that our news feeds are filled with fake information that attracts your reaction to respond and participate, creating a growing trend which now circles your friends and family. This all starts from a machine-controlled bot, which is not to get you to click on a link or install malicious malware, but to get you to share malicious information, influence your friend’s decisions and distrust your own government, creating divide rather than impartiality.       

Nation Ownership of Cyber Attacks Lacking

One thing that is clear is that cyber attacks are crossing country borders and disrupting our way of life, without nation states taking responsibility. We hear about cyber criminal groups that are behind many of the major cyber incidents in recent years whether it was a major data breach, ransomware or government agencies classified data being targeted.  Several companies and governments have linked these groups to nation states, but without revealing concrete evidence, these nation-states simply deny any involvement.  Without clear cooperation and transparency, this will continue to grow as a major problem with a possibility of a full-on cyber war as retaliation. 

Nation Acceptance of Cyber Crimes Causing Disruption

To prevent such a major catastrophe from occurring, governments and nation states need to work together with full cooperation and transparency to ensure that cyber attribution is possible and hold each other responsible for the actions of criminal organizations carrying out cyber attacks from within their borders.  It is important that governments do not provide a safe haven for cyber criminals to carry out such attacks, especially when they are doing it for both financial, political gains and extreme aggression. 

Trust has become an issue in cyberspace and information wars are in full effect with the clear intention of political and social disruption. This itself should be considered an intent of war using extreme aggression. It is time for governments to act, protect democracy and our way of life.           

About the Author: 

Joe Carson is a cyber security professional with more than 20 years’ experience in enterprise security & infrastructure. Currently, Carson is the Chief Security Scientist at Thycotic. He is an active member of the cyber security community and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

About the Author

Joseph Carson | Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO at Delinea.

Joseph Carson is a cybersecurity professional with more than 25 years’ experience in enterprise security and infrastructure. Currently, Carson is the Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO at Delinea. He is an active member of the cybersecurity community and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Carson is also a cybersecurity adviser to several governments, critical infrastructure organizations, and financial and transportation industries, and speaks at conferences globally.