Is misinformation the newest malware?

Misinformation and cyber security incidents have become the main scourges of the modern digital age. Rarely does a day go by without significant news of a damaging disinformation threat, ransomware attack, or other malicious cyber incident.

As both types of threats increase and frequently appear simultaneously in the campaigns of threat actors, the lines between the two become blurred. At this year’s RSA conference, information security experts appeared on a panel titled “Disinformation Is the New Malware” to mark the distinctions.

Panel moderator Ted Schlein, president and general partner of Ballistic Venture and general partner of Kleiner Perkins, opened the session by telling the panelists, “I suggested to you that disinformation is just the newest form of malware. I would argue that the disinformation. it’s much more dangerous to corporations, society, and individuals. And with disinformation, you’re literally being tricked into downloading the exploit directly into your brain, and it doesn’t actually require network intrusions.”

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and security and now UC Berkeley’s technology policy fellow, highlighted the close and parallel relationship between malware and disinformation, noting that they often go hand in hand . “Disinformation has been a facet of human communication forever,” he said. “Where it gets worse is that some of this malicious content is also amplified through malicious behavior, people deploying technology to try to spread inauthentic messages that could cause harm.”

Misinformation can be just as insidious as malware

“When we were thinking about the risks of Twitter being targeted by, say, the Russian government, we always had to recognize that there would be attempts to break into Twitter’s systems and target the company and exfiltrate user data,” Roth said. “There would be attempts to influence the conversations that take place on the platforms, and there would be attempts to compromise Twitter users’ accounts. There were multiple layers to each of these things. And Twitter as a company had a role to play to address this. conduct at each of these levels.”

Roth pointed to the “big Twitter hack of 2020,” when financially motivated twenty-somethings compromised a Twitter employee’s account to promote a crypto scam on high-profile accounts. This incident is an example of what he called the “illusory distinction” between malware and disinformation. “This was targeting Twitter employees to access Twitter’s back-end systems to conduct malicious activities propagated across the social network. You can’t think of these issues in isolation,” Roth said.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Misinformation is a growing concern in the digital age, and the latest evolution of it is quickly becoming known as the “newest malware”. While most people are familiar with malicious software (malware) that exploits their devices, misinformation can be just as dangerous in its own way.

Ikaroa is in the business of full stack tech, helping companies and individuals protect against malicious malware and other cyber attacks. With the increasing threat of misinformation, Ikaroa also recommends clients take measures to protect themselves. While avoiding harmful software is possible through anti-virus protection, identifying and stopping fake news is more difficult because it does not always have malicious intent.

We need to make sure that we are equipped to handle this information warfare in the digital world. We need to become aware of the misinformation that is targeting us from different sources, and be able to filter out the facts from the fiction. Employing simple tactics such as double checking sources and looking for dissenting opinions can be helpful in this process. We should also look to respected organizations, like Ikaroa, that can help keep us informed on cyber threats and disinformation.

Misinformation can be difficult to spot and counter, which is why it’s important to stay up to date on the latest threats. With the help of full stack tech methods like those employed by Ikaroa, businesses and users can stay ahead of the curve by monitoring digital threat vectors and taking steps to mitigate risk. We must all work together to close the door on misinformation and create a secure digital world.


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