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Technology 9 September 2019

The Week in Internet News: Covert Social Media Campaign Champions Military Rulers

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

The Internet as warfighting tool: Military rulers in Sudan and other countries are paying “Internet warfare” firms to develop social media campaigns to praise their leadership, the New York Times reports. The story highlights a social media company called New Waves, run by a former member of the Egyptian military and a self-described “researcher on Internet wars.”

Internet warfare, part 2: Meanwhile, a “virtual army” from mainland China has focused on recent protests in Hong Kong, with social media posts boosting government interests, the South China Morning Post writes. New recruits to the nationalist Diba group are taught how to use VPNs and circumvent the government firewall to reach the “battlefield” – social media pages and websites normally banned.

Protestors strike back: The Hong Kong protestors had their own Internet-related tactics, QZ.com reports. In response to threats of Internet shutdown, protestors began to use Bluetooth-based mesh networking technologies, allowing them to communicate through a network of devices that are linked locally, rather than over an Internet connection.

Encryption loves blockchain: The Tide Foundation, a nonprofit building an open-source framework for protecting data, has developed a blockchain-based encryption approach, Silicon Angle says.  This type of encryption is much more difficult to crack than other methods, the group claims.

It’s a tough job: There’s a mental health crisis among Internet moderators, The Independent says. “Every day, millions of videos, status updates and images are reviewed by teams of moderators around the globe, patiently sifting through batches upon batches of material to find and delete signs of graphic violence, sexual or animal abuse, racism and pornography,” the story notes.  ‘Scattered reports suggest that the psychological impact of long-term exposure to images of graphic violence is devastating, with many content moderators reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia and political extremism.”

The big hack: A high school dropout compromised early one million Internet routers, DVRs, and video cameras by co-creating the Satori botnet, The Daily Beast says. Targeting the Internet of Things, the hacker built on older malware to attack vulnerable Huawei devices. The 21-year-old Kenneth Currin Schuchman was eventually caught and is now awaiting sentencing.

It’s up to all of us to protect encryption, protect our data, and protect one another.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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