The first comment I get when speaking about social media security is almost always, “so what, it’s social media.” Followed quickly by, “I’m not important anyway.” Mix that with comments like, “I’ve got nothing to hide.” and you have a society that can be happily insecure.
In december a hacked social media account gave a 30-something a rude awaking as he was let go from his job for derogatory posts made over three days which his employer found highly offensive. Even when he tried to tell them these posts were the result of being hacked, the damage had been done. Merry christmas from hacking trolls. He was ‘unimportant’ right?
What are the reasons for these attacks on social media?
Fun and Games
For many hackers out there they deface websites and social media for fun and recognition. It works a bit like graffiti really. “Check out what I did!” or “LOLZ the KKK now follows the United Negro College Fund and Black Lives Matter!” It’s all fun and games until…
In this use of a hacked social media account the hackers share information that is either offensive or is fictitious though appearing to be legitimate. The malicious intent may have many drivers, but the consequences can be devastating.
One of the social media admins at Associated Press got their account hacked which led to a sell off on Wall Street do to mis information. The credibility of the Associated Press was highly damaged that day. While it’s impossible to calculate the total costs this one fake tweet cost the market $136 Billion dollars. While money can be remade, reputations are much harder to repair.
Another example involved a teenager who was outed as gay. The fall out on social media from friends and family of this 15 year old who lived in a very religiously conservative mormon community resulted in his suicide.
Setting Up for Greater Attacks
The most common of the forced shares which can have widespread consequences is the phishing link. Here your friends on social media will be directed to a page that can really harm them. As it comes from you, a trusted friend and seems ligit, this attack can have disastrous affect on your friends and family.
Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details and other sensitive information which allows for a wide variety of attacks against the target. Often phishing sites also try to install malware. With the zero day malware (new viruses and malware with no detection algorithm) these phishing sites pose a great threat to personal and corporate security.
Many times there are greater reasons then fun and games or embarrassing a person or company. Social media has brought Social Engineering to the forefront of security risks. Social engineering, in the context of information security, refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. Social media makes gathering the information about you easier too.
This can affect everyone
Identity Theft, Social Engineering, opening doors to phishing, malware, ransomware, and worse await you on the internet. Social media hacking contributes to these issues and more.
Everyone should be using strong passwords for social media. They should be using authentication helpers provided by many of the social media companies. Facebook for example has a wonderful feature that insists you verify new browsers or app installs. It is not good practice alone, but necessity to utilize these features. Especially if you use your social media account to admin a corporate page.
You may think that you’re not ‘important’ or ‘have nothing to hide’ but you are most definitely wrong. Privacy is important. There are real world consequences that you can face if you don’t better secure your social media accounts now. Start with better passwords, add some encryption, look into the security features offered by sites like facebook and twitter and above all, don’t be gullible!
If you are thinking about changing companies or investing in one you should build your own business model of that company. There are several reasons to do so though the number one reason in my opinion is understanding.
When you buy a house you get an inspection done. You’re going to live there potentially, you want and should know if it is safe. Going into someone else’s company as an employee, investor or where some of your pay is in shares or options, the same concept applies. Know what you’re getting into.
A business model is a design for the successful operation of a business, identifying revenue sources, customer base, products, and details of financing. Further it helps you understand why they have customers (and income) and why those customers think the product or service is valuable.
If you can’t discern the business model, there is something potentially wrong with the overall business or products. How safe is your income if their business model relies solely on investments into the company? Will they ever make a profit? Can they pay you?
There are many quick and easy ways to make a business model, but the one I recommend to begin with for any company (including one you may consider starting) is the business model canvas found in Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder. This book is designed for entrepreneurs but helpful for any type of company review and business model construction.
Where to start when reviewing someone else’s company? Revenue streams is always my starting point. What do they sell to make money? Most people say revenue should be obvious. they are often wrong. Revenue comes in from investment, from interest, from sales of product and services, and from back-market contracting.
Back-market contracting in the tech industry (eg web or mobile apps) is often the real revenue stream of some companies. For an example let’s look at Facebook: They sell information about their users behavior and stored information to advertisers and marketing research companies. This is back-market that many people don’t address when looking at the products and services. As a FaceBook user, you are more their vendor/supplier then their customer. (That you don’t get paid while they make money is for another post.)
I tend to work through the boxes on the model clockwise and then repeat several times until I feel i have a handle on the company and could write a 1 page or less summary on the company. The exercise has saved me from taking jobs with companies that would have crashed very soon after I became dependant on their income or lost money.
As with anything you are not the founder or are in charge of, carefully consider their model before investing or accepting employment. Yes, there are many companies that grow fast and sell for big bucks. But for every 1 of those there are 1000+ that fail and will leave you broke or unpaid.
Privacy: the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
What is privacy? From one perspective, Privacy is what was once called freedom and liberty. From another it is to have a reasonable trust that what you have, discuss or know not to become general knowledge.
We can maintain our privacy in numerous ways. The catch-all and best of course is not to go anywhere or say anything, though our social nature precludes that as being reasonable. Which brings me to the question: What is reasonable privacy?
This is where opinion, emotion and ideals clash. FBI vs. Apple is one of the current examples. Our ideals of freedom and liberty (a.k.a. privacy) have taught us that a court or judiciary should find reasonable and probable cause to infringe on our privacy. However when we have seen the government abuse this privilege we logically take steps to prevent it. From Apple and other tech leaders (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Facebook, etc.) have had real concerns and costs associated with the government’s requests (warrants) and been told that they must conform to the requests in secret. Their logical action is to limit their own ability to conform with encryption.
As an individual, you now have the means to keep your privacy in an electronic format better then just 20 years ago. You feel safe that this security has been provided to you even when you do not understand the technology and methodologies involved. I call this “a reasonable expectation of security.” Herein lies yet another issue with privacy and technology. You.
Through our reasonable expectation of privacy we have a reasonable expectation of security with the technology we use. We expect that our messages, emails, social media posts (the ones we have restricted to friends) and our computers to be safe. In general only 15% of adults understand the basics of information technology security according to research done at CYLab at Carnegie Mellon University. The basics are limited to things such as having a good password and installing a virus scanner on your computer.
It’s true that MS Windows come with antivirus protection built … Unfortunately, Microsoft’s free antivirus tools will not protect your computer from modern malware. While apple has a firewall, your Mac does not have antivirus by default. Linux has both a firewall and free antivirus available, though many distributions of Linux do not have them installed and active at install. Over 50% of smart phones have little to no antivirus anti malware installed. 75% of personal computers are not adequately protected against harm.
Ultimately, the security of your computer or smartphone is dependent upon your own actions and software purchased. What risks should you be thinking about?
Malware stealing your passwords and login information
Ransomware that prevents you from using your computer or files
A hacker using your computer to attack others
Someone breaking into your system and altering or stealing files
Someone stealing your computer and accessing your personal information
All of these are risks, many of these attacks can result in either social engineering (Social engineering is an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves tricking people into breaking normal security procedures.) or outright identity theft. In the end, hackers or criminals want to gain value from what they do. There is an almost unlimited number of attacks that can result in their profit and your loss.
If you’re wanting a simple and interactive primer, watch the video below and try the game they discuss.
When I speak with people about privacy and security, I hear many people exclaim, “I have nothing to hide.” These people have a naive worldview where they have never had a breach or identity theft. I envy these people far more then they know. Their naïvety of what is a daily occurrence for so many people leaves me feeling the same as watching a small child act without fear. It does not change any of the real world facts or dangers, but they have the super power of ignorance on their side.
Much of our privacy concerns are directed at the government. William Edward Binney in 2001 and Snowden in 2013 have highlighted the governments reach. FBI vs. Apple has reawoken the DOJ’s reach through the judicial branch of government. These are real issues and on-going reaches to attain more power. One lady interviewed in Belgium today (March 22, 2016) following the bombings said, “They [the government] need to take away our privacy to get these people. Do it now.” This reactionary ideal has real consequences.
Many of us want to utilize all the wonderful internet tools which help us keep in touch, track our favorite sports and to even manage our shopping list. Yet people have no idea how internet businesses use and transfer personal data to others. Many people and policy makers are only just now discussing the reality that many businesses, online and off, quietly seek to identify consumers personally and sell information about them to others. The information is transferred to data brokers, repackaged and sold.
The not so new Information-Intensive Business Model relies on keeping people in the dark as they know that people object to this collection activity. Some of the selling points they offer businesses:
“We can secretly identify the address of your customer.”
“Not just the identity, but how they felt while visiting your store.”
Keeping things secret is important to businesses that purchase these services to avoid “losing customers who feel that you’re invading their privacy.” This business model is more prevalent then many people want to believe. Some of their software is even considered malware by leading security firms.
Consider this: without bothering to ask or tell you, retail stores are using systems that capture a unique, unchangeable identifier from your phone to track your movements and to identify you on your next visit. Currently this tracking is done on a pseudonymous basis. But how long do you think it will take for retailers to link the phone identifier to your contact information? And what remedy will you have—aside from leaving your phone at home—once this linkage occurs?
Connect this tracking with your point of sale system and link their credit information. Further connect this with facial & emotion recognition software which links social media accounts and you start to see the depth of this invasion of your privacy. Consider that your employer may use all this connected information in their human resources systems and you may not feel you have nothing to hide any longer.
There is not a single “Where should the line be drawn between Personal Privacy and Security?” statement. As the line is not just between you and the government, but businesses, marketers and data brokers which capitalize all this data for their customers in all areas of our lives. The data is not just being used any longer to place ads in your browser window. They are an integral part of the profiling done to you by almost every business, even your employer.
FILM: ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (1984) starring John Hurt and Richard Burton.
Big Brother is not just watching you. Big Brother is judging you.
Events have had a major impact on public attitudes on this issue. Terrorist attacks generate increased anxieties. For instance, the San Bernardino and Paris shootings in late 2015 had a striking impact. A Pew Research Center survey in December found that 56% of Americans were more concerned that the government’s anti-terror policies have not gone far enough to protect the country, compared with 28% who expressed concern that the policies have gone too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties. Just two years earlier, amid the furor over Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programs, more said their bigger concern was that anti-terror programs had gone too far in restricting civil liberties (47%) rather than not far enough in protecting the country (35%).
There is an ongoing conversation about privacy. While there are groups on the side of Privacy such as Electronic Frontier Foundation, EPIC, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Patient Privacy Rights, U.S. PIRG and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse there are also over 175 governments and the many thousands of bureaus they contain with their own wishes. Were this the limit of players the conversation could be simple, but when you throw in the 10,000+ businesses that profit off violating your privacy, everything gets even more complex.
Pew Research stated: “One consistent finding over the years about public attitudes related to privacy and societal security is that people’s answers often depend on the context. The language of the questions we ask sometimes affects the way people respond.”
The conversation about Privacy and Security is a complex one. It is far better to be involved in this discussion then not. What actions can you take to get involved? You could read primers on the issues and threats. You can get involved with a group that supports some of your opinions about privacy. Better, get involved in more then one group. Most importantly, even if you have not had your privacy breached by the government, criminals or businesses you should become aware of the threat and how it can be used against you and others.
Colin Bennett of the University of Victoria, Author of The Privacy Advocates: “A lot of privacy advocacy is not only about privacy, It’s about honesty, and it’s about trust. And when a reputation has been damaged because a company has been seen to not have been entirely open about its policy, then that privacy message can resonate more effectively.”
So who owns the data about you? When we hear about the companies profiting hugely off our data it raises a natural question. Why don’t we benefit from it? Why don’t we get a say in how data about us is used?
The conversation about Privacy and Security is a complex. It is far better to be involved in this discussion then not. What actions can you take to get involved? You could read primers on the issues and threats. You can get involved with a group that supports some of your opinions about privacy. Better, get involved in more then one group. Most importantly, even if you have not had your privacy breached by the government, criminals or businesses you should become aware of the threat and how it can be used against you and others.
From my earliest memories of school I was taught and expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. No one asked if I understood the “oath” I was reciting. They just taught me to say the words.
As I grew, matured and learned I realized that this activity was propaganda. This happened sometime in my early teens when we studied communism, the cold war and the evil which was the USSR. We learned of the aftermath of world war two the soviets utilized propaganda for control of their conquered territories.
Propaganda was taught as a bad word. As something evil. As children, we are taught so many facts which are in affect merely ideology and propaganda. How could they do this? Wasn’t this the sort of thing that the Soviets do?
Suddenly the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance was suspect and became empty and devoid of meaning. These people (teachers and school officials) wish me to keep my promises yet they have been utilizing propaganda on me. Isn’t is a bit strange to brainwash children with propaganda?
The United States has utilized propaganda techniques repeatedly through its history, particularly during periods of war and international crisis. As early as the revolutionary period, Americans evinced a shrewd grasp of the utility of propaganda as an instrument of foreign policy. The total wars of the early twentieth century led the U.S. government to employ propaganda on a massive scale as an accessory to military operations, but the Cold War institutionalized propaganda as a central component of American foreign policy. The governmental use of propaganda continued to expand in the twenty-first century, largely due to the harnessing of the revolution in communications.
But for most Americans, propaganda has a negative connotation as a treacherous, deceitful, and manipulative practice. Americans have generally thought of propaganda as something “other” people and nations do, while they themselves merely persuade, inform, or educate. Americans have employed numerous euphemisms for their propaganda in order to distinguish it from its totalitarian applications and wicked connotations.
So here we are in 2016 and 2 generations of Americans have been reciting an oath from an age they do not understand nor have they the facility or right to make. So how do we proceed to teach our kids the values of honesty and the morality of keeping your word when we dilute it so?
The term “propaganda” has spawned as many definitions as it has euphemisms. Harold Lasswell, a pioneer of propaganda studies in the United States, defined it as “the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols.” Like other social scientists in the 1930s, he emphasized its psychological elements: propaganda was a subconscious manipulation of psychological symbols to accomplish secret objectives. Subsequent analysts stressed that propaganda was a planned and deliberate act of opinion management. A 1958 study prepared for the U.S. Army, for example, defined propaganda as “the planned dissemination of news, information, special arguments, and appeals designed to influence the beliefs, thoughts, and actions of a specific group.” In the 1990s the historian Oliver Thomson defined propaganda broadly to include both deliberate and unintentional means of behavior modification, describing it as “the use of communication skills of all kinds to achieve attitudinal or behavioural changes among one group by another.”
How does propaganda differ from advertising, public relations, education, information, or, for that matter, politics? At its core, propaganda refers to any technique or action that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, or behavior of a group, in order to benefit the sponsor. Propaganda is usually, but not exclusively, concerned with public opinion and mass attitudes. The purpose of propaganda is to persuade—either to change or reinforce existing attitudes and opinions. Yet propaganda is also a manipulative activity. It often disguises the secret intentions and goals of the sponsor; it seeks to inculcate ideas rather than to explain them; and it aspires to modify or control opinions and actions primarily to benefit the sponsor rather than the recipient.
I find myself at a juxtaposition in regards to the Pledge of Allegiance and all sorts of other propaganda we teach our children. On the one hand:
“The supreme lesson of education is to think for yourself; absent this attainment, education creates dangerous, stupefying conformity.” -Bryant McGill
And on the other:
“If we are always guided by other people’s thoughts, what is the purpose in having our own?” -Annomous
While I was out for breakfast over the weekend and had to wait in a rather long line. The group in front of us, a family of four with two college age kids, were discussing politics. I had to inject one thing into their conversation to correct their limited understanding; Bernie Sanders is not bad for the economy, he is great for it.
Case in point, as I made to them; Asher Edelman endorses Bernie Sanders for President. Who is Edelman? He is the real life Gordon Gekko that the movie Wall Street was based upon and one of the more successful people you will find on the real Wall Street.
Asher Edelman vs Gordon Gekko
Edelman says, “Well, I think it’s quite simple,” he began. “If you look at something called ‘velocity of money’—you guys know what that is, I presume—that means how much gets spent and turns around. When you have the top one percent getting money, they spend five, 10 percent of what they earn. When you have the lower end of the economy getting money, they spend 100, or 110 percent of what they earn. As you’ve had a transfer of wealth to the top, and a transfer of income to the top, you have a shrinking consumer base, basically, and you have a shrinking velocity of money. Bernie is the only person out there who I think is talking at all about both fiscal stimulation and banking rules that will get the banks to begin to generate lending again as opposed to speculation. So from an economic point of view, it’s straightforward.”
He said this on the financial program Fast Money on CNBC (view video) Edelman responded immediately when asked who he thought the best candidate for the economy would be. “Bernie Sanders,” Edelman said, without missing a beat. “No question.”
One of the most successful Wall Streeters ever endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. This is a big thing. Edelman is everything Trump keeps telling us he is; though Edelman is far more successful and worth so much more money then Trump. Slight difference there.
On the issue of minimum wage; $15/hr is not an economy killer either. More money, more velocity, better for everyone. There will not be mass unemployment or stagnation as so many believe. There are examples of course in places like Seattle, America’s fastest growing city in economic terms. The champion for Seattle’s $15 minimum wage? Billionaire and 1%’er Nick Hanauer. He outlined his argument for $15 in multiple forums and media, but one of the best is his opinion piece at CNBC.
Nick Hanauer states, “When workers have more money, businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers.” Velocity of money explained in even more simple terms.
“The problem is runaway economic inequality eventually won’t work out for anyone.” Nick continues to say. Is that where we are today? I think so and so do so many others. From 1997 to 2015 I primarily lived outside the U.S. and the most disturbing thing I find on my return is that things cost more yet the wages are still circa 1997.
So two 1%’ers that support Bernie Sanders. There are more, but these guys are the problem and they will tell you so. They all want the same thing: An America that is doing well for everyone.
“The most insidious part of trickle down economics isn’t that if the rich get richer, that’s good for the economy. It is that if the poor get richer, that will be bad.” – Nick Hanauer
We are getting down to the wire. A lot of eliminations have already happened helping to focus on what people (voters & media pundits) feel is important. Watching and listening to these politicians can be amusing and disheartening. This presidential election is shaping up to be something like we have never seen before; or have we?
The media has for years worked more like advertising or reality television than our own preconceived notion of news (or factually presenting facts;) The media or news outlets are seeking to appeal to their demographic base thus increasing ratings which in turn generates revenue by selling advertising. In all affect, their business model is about generating revenue by selling advertisement they do this with content tailored to keep you tuned in. They are exploiting our neotribalism for a profit. The “News” or “Media” is really 90% infotainment and propagation of already held views.
Our modern society is based more upon Neotribalism or modern tribalism. This sociological concept which postulates that human beings have evolved to live in tribal society, as opposed to mass society, and thus will naturally form social networks constituting new “tribes.”
President of the United States has become a reality TV show
David Ropeik wrote in Psychology Today:
Tribalism is pervasive, and it controls a lot of our behavior, readily overriding reason. Think of the inhuman things we do in the name of tribal unity. Wars are essentially, and often quite specifically, tribalism. Genocides are tribalism – wipe out the other group to keep our group safe – taken to madness. Racism that lets us feel that our tribe is better than theirs, parents who end contact with their own children when they dare marry someone of a different faith or color, denial of evolution or climate change or other basic scientific truths when they challenge tribal beliefs. What stunning evidence of the power of tribalism! (By the way, it wasn’t just geocentrist Catholics in the 16 and 1700s who denied evidence that the earth travels around the sun. Some Christian biblical literalists still do. So do a handful of ultra orthodox Jews and Muslims.)
Yet another example is the polarized way we argue about so many issues, and the incredible irony that as we make these arguments we claim to be intelligent (smart, therefore right) yet we ignorantly close our minds to views that conflict with ours. Dan Kahan, principal researcher into the phenomenon of Cultural Cognition (Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact,) has found that our views are powerfully shaped so they agree with beliefs of the groups with which we most strongly identify. His research, along with the work of others, has also found that the more challenged our views are, the more we defend them…the more dogmatic and closed-minded we become…an intellectual form of ‘circle-the-wagons, we’re under attack’ tribal unity. Talk about tribalism overruling reason.
As irrational as genocide and science denial and immorality may be, it makes absolute sense that tribalism can produce such behaviors. We are social animals. We have evolved to depend on our tribes, literally, for our safety and survival…
…We may not be aware at the conscious level of the influence tribalism has on us, but then, most of human cognition happens below the radar of consciousness, and is driven not so much by the goal of getting good grades or winning Nobel Prizes as it is, first, to survive. Small wonder that this ultimate imperative dominates so much of how we behave, how we think and act, and how we treat each other. And it’s hardly surprising that the more unsettled and uncertain we feel and the less we feel we have control over how things are going – feelings that make us feel threatened – the more we circle the wagons and fiercely fight for tribal success, looking to the tribe to keep us safe.
We also identify with our tribes based upon how we want to be perceived by other members of our tribes. We join tribes not only because we feel threatened, but to avoid conflicts. If we find a great number of our fellow tribe-mates are joining a particular tribe, we not only adjust our memberships in tribes but change our views for acceptance of these people.
Examples of joining tribes for acceptance has been seen repeatedly in the religious/political marriages over the past 30 years. In this election we often have heard people ask, how will candidate ABC appeal to XYZ religious group. We have also seen how entire congregations have come to support extremist candidates.
We seek like minded people to justify our own correctness
Do we know the facts or our we paraphrasing what we see in the media to justify our position? Is our position based upon a single source? A recent study concluded that not watching the news you would likely know more then the most watched news in America.
They found that someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer 1.04 domestic questions correctly compared to 1.22 for those who watched no news at all. -Fairleigh Dickinson University’s newest PublicMind survey.
So why don’t we invest more time into understanding and knowing the facts of our laws and candidates? While laziness is what most people answer, neotribalism probably has more to do with it. Our instinctive need for social cohesion easily overwhelms morality and reason.
If you’re wondering still why things have become so extreme and polarized and why words have had their meanings forever altered; it’s because you are not speaking up to either become a leader of your tribe and or you have switched tribes altogether. It makes me sad that the Election of the President of the United States has become a reality TV show seeking ratings through conflict focused on their demographics.
What do you think? Voice your views in the comments!
This will be the first time in about 18 years that I’m voting in person in the US.
I have experienced voting in person in Sweden in recent years, which is as exciting as it is easy. So my expectations are a mixed bag. There are so many candidates and issues; the hanging chad; lines at the poles… What will it be like?
This is the first of two elections where voters will nominate their party candidates. Candidates for the following offices are seeking nomination in this election:
President of the United States
United States Senator
Representatives in Congress
State Senators and Representatives in the General Assembly
Cook County State’s Attorney, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and Recorder of Deeds
Commissioners of the Board of Review of Cook County – Districts 1 and 2
Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District – 3 to be nominated for 6 year terms – 1 to be nominated to fill a vacancy for a 2 year term
Since I’m a democrat, selecting a presidential nominee is between 2 candidates. That’s the easy one, while almost all the other offices are hard to navigate. I say this because unlike California where they always sent me a sample ballot, provided it via a web page, I’ve had to research the hell out of each nominee manually here in Illinois. While Cook County provides a sample ballot online, many of the candidates have no information.
It makes me question if this isn’t one of the reasons voter turnout is low. Sure there are other reasons, but making voting easier seems to be a no brainer.