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
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride with an interactive video, visualising 50 years of parades.
Celebrating 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Pride//Crimson Tazvinzwa
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride with an interactive video, visualising 50 years of parades. 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place in New York City in late June of 1969, and are often cited as the beginning of the LGBTQ+ rights movement
Tales from the Liverpool city
Stories, objects and memories from Liverpool’s LGBT+ community
Huawei is one of a number of phone manufacturers who use the Google-developed Android operating systems on its phones and tablets.
The Verge has reported that Google has cut off Huawei’s licence – meaning it will no longer be able to use apps like Maps and Gmail and will not have access to security updates.
Existing customers will be able to update their phones and apps, but will not be able to update to a newer version of the Android operating system if one becomes available.
Android said it had taken steps to “comply with the recent US government actions”.
This could be a reference to US president Donald Trump’s executive order apparently aimed at banning Huawei’s equipment from US networks and said it was subjecting the Chinese company to strict export controls.
The order – which empowers the US government to ban the technology and services of “foreign adversaries” deemed to pose “unacceptable risks” to national security – did not name specific countries or companies.
Meanwhile, retired brigadier general Robert Spalding, the former senior director for strategy at the National Security Council, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the UK “must recognise” the strength of US feeling on Huawei.
He wrote: “Other nations must not make the mistake of thinking President Trump’s recent executive order banning companies like Huawei from US networks is merely an afterthought of the trade war.
“The severity of President Trump’s declaration underscores just how seriously the US views this issue, and the UK must recognise this strength of feeling.
“To miss the significance of his actions would be a grave misjudgment of how seriously we take our security in an ever-more dangerous world.”