Social media and other tech companies are finally considering their approach to political ads and political content. In the past, Twitter and TikTok stated that they won’t host political ads, while Facebook defended the move in front of the US Congress.
The newest entrant to this club is Google. The company, it seems, has finally put restraints on political ads targeting voters based on age, gender, and location. Advertisers will not get any access to users’ political leanings or their public voting records.
US Election 2020, Vote Rigging And Tampering
The US Presidential Election 2020 will be the testbed for political content on social media platforms and its effects on voting patterns. Google, Twitter and Facebook have all been accused of influencing the 2016 elections and held responsible for bringing President Donald Trump to power.
The effect of all such policies will only be known post this election. One thing is certain, whether tech companies abstain or get involved in political content, their effect on any election globally cannot be denied.
“Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms,” Scott Spencer, VP, Product Management, Google Ads stated on the Google Blog on Wednesday.
The strategy will be tried out in the impending UK elections, the upcoming EU elections and in all other countries by January 6, 2020.
While all tech companies are taking steps to stay away from politics, Facebook seems to be the odd one out. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended political ads in front of the US Congress. However, even its subsidiary WhatsApp has not left things as they were.Related Stories
ZDNet reported on Thursday that WhatsApp banned nearly half a million accounts spreading misinformation in the Brazilian elections. Whether it impacted voting in any way is not yet known, but a massive crackdown on automated and bulk messaging was done. The interesting thing is that it was criticised by the winning party when it took the step.
Why hire ethical hackers and where to find them;Tristan Liverpool, Internet||
It’s no news that data breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise, with hacks becoming increasingly sophisticated. Businesses are struggling to keep up with rapidly shifting cybercriminal motivations, tactics and appetites for destruction.
The problem is exacerbated further by emerging technologies such as IoT, giving hackers new mechanisms and vehicles for attack. Organisations are also migrating data to the cloud frequently, moving large volumes of work data and applications in various deployment configurations, leaving swathes of unprotected data behind for hackers to exploit. So, what steps can companies take to avoid disruption?
To both understand and keep pace with evolving cybercriminal mindsets, many businesses are fighting fire with fire – in other words hiring hackers for help. In fact, large corporations such as Airbnb, PayPal and Spotify, recently revealed that they have willingly spent over £38M on ethical hackers to tighten their cyber defences and avoid crippling data breaches.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Ethical hackers can play a fundamental role in helping security teams consider every single possible attack vector when protecting applications. Whilst security architects have a wealth of knowledge on industry best practise, they often lack first-hand experience of how attackers perform reconnaissance, chain together multiple attacks or gain access to corporate networks.
Equipped with – one hopes – all the skills and cunning of their adversaries, the ethical hacker is legally permitted to exploit security networks and improve systems by fixing vulnerabilities found during the testing. They are also required to disclose all discovered vulnerabilities. While it may sound counter-intuitive to make use of hackers to help plan and test our cyber defences, the one thing they have in abundance is valuable, hands-on experience.
According to the 2019 Hacker Report, the white hat hacker community has doubled year over year. Last year, US$19 million was doled out in bounties, nearly matching the total paid to hackers in the previous six years combined. Eye-catchingly, the report also estimates that top earning ethical hackers can make up to forty times the median annual wage of a software engineer in their home country.
Where to hunt down ethical hackers
The most common method is a “bug bounty” scheme operating under strict terms and conditions. This way, any member of the public can search for and submit discovered vulnerabilities for a chance to earn a bounty. It can work well for publicly available services, such as websites or mobile apps. Rewards depend on the level of perceived risk once the affected organisation confirms the validity of its discovery.
Using crowdsourcing and paying incentives has obvious benefits. Hackers get reputational kudos and/or hard currency to showcase and test their skills in a very public forum. In exchange, the hiring organisation gains new dimensions of security smarts and perspectives.
Some businesses choose to hire hackers direct. Hands-on experience is key here. While it may sound counter-intuitive to make use of external hackers – some of which have a track record of criminal activity – the one thing they have in abundance is hands-on experience. At the end of the day, a hacker is a hacker. The only difference is what they do once a bug or vulnerability is found.
Ultimately, employing an ex-cybercriminal is a risky decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. It is also worth noting that criminal background checks only help identify previous offenders – they lack context on how a person has changed. For example, it is unlikely that someone charged for a denial of service attack at a young age has mutated into an international career criminal. Indeed, some young offenders often go on to become well respected security consultants and industry thought-leaders.
Another fertile hunting ground for hackers could be closer to home. The best practitioners are curious, with a strong passion to deconstruct and reassemble. Businesses need to get better at harnessing the skills of those building their applications, code and network infrastructure. They may already know about vulnerabilities but have yet to report them as it isn’t part of their job description. This is a waste. Decision-makers need all the insight and help they can get, and there’s more of it out there than you think. Over the years, I’ve met many people at security workshops or capture the flag hacker events that have built products but claim to enjoy the process of ameliorative, intelligence-gathering hacking even more.
Finally, ethical hacking is also becoming increasingly formalised. Notable qualifications include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) or Global Information Assurance Certifications (GIAC). Naturally, many seasoned hackers will balk at such educative evolutions but watch this space. Ethical hacking is set to become more mainstream as perceptions and security-first business imperatives change.
Keep your friends close…
Although it seems perverse to hire hackers and ex-cybercriminals, it’s clear that they can bring invaluable, real-world knowledge to a range of security activities, including threat modelling and penetration testing. They may offer a perspective that others haven’t considered and can show businesses how to adapt to threats by giving insight into their tactics and motivations.
With more businesses taking this approach to cybersecurity, it’s important to keep a close eye on their activity to make sure that these hackers aren’t slipping into their old malicious ways and putting your business at serious risk.
Tristan Liverpool, System Engineering Director at F5 Networks
Keep your devices protected from the latest cyber threats with the best antivirus
Canada hits Zuckerberg with summons for failing to appear before parliament By Mathew Ingram
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has appeared before Congress in the past, to talk about the giant social network’s role in misinformation and election-meddling, but the number of times he has appeared before a government committee is vastly outweighed by the number of times he has declined to do so. The Facebook co-founder continued that streak by failing to appear in Canada this week before an international committee that is looking into Facebook’s status as a conduit for misinformation. His second-in-command, Sheryl Sandberg, also refused to attend. As a result, the Canadian government issued an open-ended summons that requires both Zuckerberg and Sandberg to appear before Parliament should they enter Canada for any reason. If they fail to do so, they could be held in contempt.
A vote calling for Mark Zuckerberg to stand down as Facebook’s chairman is expected to take place at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday
“He’s holding down two full-time jobs in one of the most high-profile companies in the world right now. And if he can focus on being the CEO, and let somebody else focus on being independent board chair, that would be a much better situation,” said Jonas Kron, senior vice-president at Trillium.
Mark Zuckerberg is impossible to profile. He’s a narrative anti-catalyst, who takes all the elements of a fantastic story, and renders them lifeless, probably on purpose.
Even if this did come to pass, however (which would require a vote in the House of Commons), a citation for contempt doesn’t really bring with it any kind of practical sanctions. Parliament can theoretically jail someone if they are found in contempt, but this is extremely rare, which makes it mostly a formality. This week also isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has been hit with a summons: he was given one by both the UK government and the Canadian government last year, when the two started investigating the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The Facebook co-founder didn’t appear in either country (no contempt citations were issued). In essence, the summons and the threat of contempt are a way for the Canadian and UK governments to show how important they believe it is for the CEO of the company to appear before them, but there’s no real practical way for them to force him to do so.
The joint summons last year came as the UK, Canada, and a number of other nations were forming what they are calling an “international grand committee” to investigate the responsibility not just of Facebook but also other tech platforms such as Google, Twitter, and Amazon to address privacy and misinformation. The hearing Zuckerberg and Sandberg refused to appear at in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, was the second meeting of this grand committee. Instead of the two senior executives, the members of the committee heard fromFacebook’s policy head for Canada, Kevin Chan, as well as Neil Potts, global policy director. The appearance of the latter seemed to upset committee co-chair Bob Zimmer, a Canadian MP, who grumbled that Potts doesn’t even appear in a list of the top 100 most important Facebook executives.
In addition to representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, the committee also heard testimony from a number of experts in technology and social networking, including former Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie, as well as Roger McNamee, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was an early mentor to Zuckerberg and made billions of dollars by investing before Facebook went public. McNamee has since changed his mind about the company, which he refers to as “the biggest problem we have for democracy,” and has written a book about how he believes the company is changing society and human behavior for the worse (Facebook has responded to McNamee’s criticisms by saying it has “fundamentally changed how we operate” to protect the safety of users, and that McNamee “hasn’t been involved with Facebook for a decade”). Balsillie, meanwhile, told the committee that “data is not the new oil, it’s the new plutonium: amazingly powerful, dangerous when it spreads, difficult to clean up and with serious consequences when improperly used.”
Facebook and Google both signed a declaration in advance of the Ottawa hearings, saying that they would do their best to protect the integrity of the upcoming Canadian elections (Twitter didn’t sign). But Facebook has also stuck to its guns on the way it currently handles misinformation: for example, the company said that it won’t commit to removing false reports or “fake news” about the elections or the various campaigns. That’s similar to the approach the social network took with doctored videos of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, which were modified to make it appear that she was drunk or senile. It didn’t take the videos down, but said it would prevent them from showing up as highly in the News Feed and added a note that they were “the subject of further reporting,” a decision that was widely criticized.
Don Jr accuses Instagram of Anti-Trump conspiracy, campaign//Crimson Tazvinzwa
ROME (Reuters) – Accounts tagged ‘hatetrump’ and ‘ihatetrump’ are part of a coordinated campaign to undermine U.S. President Donald Trump that has emerged on social media site Instagram, an independent study has revealed.
The photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it was investigating the report and had already removed some of the profiles it highlighted.
Malign online attacks against Trump’s opponents have been well documented, most notably in the 2016 presidential election campaign, when Russian trolls allegedly flooded social media sites to undermine the Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
Italian analytics firm Ghost Data says here the U.S. president is now facing similar illicit tactics, albeit on a limited scale, with false profiles being created and coordinated online attacks organised to spread a virulent anti-Trump message.
“We have uncovered a small operation that is very likely part of something bigger,” said Andrea Stroppa, the head of research at Ghost Data, which has previously published reports on online counterfeiting and malicious botnets.