The next world war may be a cyber war and internet users need to protect against online viruses as they would with bugs that threaten their personal health, a top Google executive warned in a talk on data security that opened the B.C. Tech Summit on Tuesday.

By 2020, computing devices will be twice as plentiful as the world’s population and their ubiquity increases the vulnerability of personal data, Jared Cohen, CEO and founder of Jigsaw, an arm of Google started to tackle threats to online security, said to kick off the two-day event.

The world is already witnessing attacks on the digital stability of countries, some of which are also engaged in a physical war, in Eastern Europe, for instance, he said.

Digital stability is just as important as military might, because “the next Great War may be a cyber war,” he said.

Cyber wars are fought by disrupting the free flow of information, torturing citizens for their passwords, unleashing disinformation and cyberbullying campaigns, and setting up “synthetic armies,” said Cohen, who used to work for the U.S. State Department.

The most high-profile manipulation of social-media data came to light when it was revealed that Russian trolls were able to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in the Cambridge Analytics case.

Further evidence of how “nefarious actors” manipulated data collected online is the amassing of “synthetic armies,” as when trolls targeted martial-arts clubs in the U.S., paying them to hold martial-arts classes so they could collect photos of blacks fighting whites.

The digital propaganda was used to appeal to individuals vulnerable to those types of manipulation.

“It’s not just meddling with elections,” he said.

He said it’s up to individuals to practise cyber hygiene and protect their digital health as they do theirs and others’ health by staying home when sick. Data manipulation “is a greater …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Business


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