by Ed Cabrera
As we predicted in 2016, cyberpropaganda is a major growth area for cybercriminals. Per that prediction, “The rise in the Internet penetration has opened the opportunity for invested parties to use the Internet as a free-for-all tool to influence public opinion to go one way or another.” Today, we know this through Wikileaks and self-proclaimed fake news websites.
Reputation is critical to organizations and individuals in our world today. Whether information is true or not sadly doesn’t matter. The reality is – once information is out there, the opinion of the general public is automatically impacted. This gives fake news a great deal of power in both political and business situations, as it can heavily impact the reputation of the targeted group or organization. And we’ve seen it in action – with cyberpropaganda campaigns attempting to sway public opinion surrounding elections in 2016 and 2017, as well as against World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and other organizations.
Protecting against it
Trend Micro’s latest report, “The Fake News Machine,” provides in depth analysis of how this works, and how cybercriminals have capitalized on this huge growth area. Researchers Lion Gu, Vladimir Kropotov, and Fyodor Yarochkin dug through online marketplaces, both on the surface and Deep Web, to identify how cyberpropaganda campaigns are being sold. Fake News today stands on three pillars – social networks, tools and services and motivations – which enable the successful propagation and success of these campaigns.
While government and social networking sites are actively working to stop the impactful spread of fake news, individuals can also take steps to impede its effect. Here are some signs users can look for to identify fake news:
- Hyperbolic and clickbait headlines
- Suspicious website domains that spoof legitimate news media
- Misspellings in content and awkwardly laid out website
- Obviously edited photos and images
- No publishing timestamps
- No author, sources or data
Read more about Fake News and how it’s become such a growth are of cybercrime here.