The rise of idea viruses
While the impact that regular people can have on social media gets a lot of attention these days, there’s still something to be said about the influence that media organizations have through the stories that they painstakingly research, craft and publish.
The way we perceive their influence is certainly changing, but for the most part, we still have a habit of turning to them when we want facts and analysis on a topic.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by hackers. A recent ZDNet article highlighted some of the attacks that have been targeted at online media publications, and it mainly focused on a security breach that was experienced by The Wall Street Journal. The reasons for these attacks on the media can be quite varied, such as infecting them with malware or gaining access to user accounts, but there’s also the matter of using them to spread ideas and misinformation that the hackers might want to share with a large audience.
You see, hackers aren’t always interested in causing technical and identity problems. Many of them have a particular agenda that they want to let the world know about, and if they can hack into the website or social media accounts of a major online publication and share information as if it was being reported by the publication, then they can quickly have an impact on how people think. Sure, these hacks and false reports might be identified quickly, but like we mentioned earlier, information can spread in the blink of an eye, and a few minutes or hours could be all it takes for a single hacker or a group of hackers to have their ideas embedded in the minds of the unsuspecting public.
In many ways, these idea viruses and the spread of malicious or false information can be even more dangerous than other methods of attack that hackers could use.
As we have all come to recognise, we can’t trust everything that we read online, and that applies whether it’s coming from a respected name in the media or not.
This article is also available in: German