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Different Reasons to Ban Political Ads



Even Facebook, which allows political ads, can still ban them. Just for different reasons.

Facebook made a well-known decision to allow political ads, which led to a great deal of discussion. (By contrast, Twitter decided to ban them altogether.) Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has strongly defended his company’s policies. He argued that in a democracy, people should be able to see clearly what politicians are saying. That way they can make their own judgements.

Facebook’s decision raises many questions. These include whether it is even possible to allow political ads without opening the door to fake news and misinformation.

Election laws were written long before campaigns took to social media and started sending individually targeted posts and messages through sites like Twitter and Facebook.  This can allow for more information—and more misinformation.  People can learn about their candidates, but how much of what they learn is tainted and untrue?  These are important issues about political advertisement on social media generally.

Independent Reasons to Ban Ads

However, sometimes there are independent reasons to ban ads.

Recently, the BBC gave Facebook an open and shut reason for banning a political ad by Britain’s conservative Tory party. The ad, which showcased some of the BBC’s popular presenters speaking about Brexit delays, upset the BBC. The BBC argued that the ad took the clips of its presenters out of context. It also said that it falsely made it appear as if the BBC supported the Tory party. Therefore, it argued, the ad could damage its impartiality, which is so essential to a news service.

Here’s why Facebook deleted the ad on time

Facebook deleted the ad, citing its violation of the BBC’s intellectual property rights. Facebook told the media that it will act in accordance with its policies and take required actions whenever it receives valid IP claims against content on its platform.

The Tory party argued that other political parties use BBC footage, and that it was being singled out by the BBC for IP enforcement of its Facebook ads.


Attack of the Ransomware


A significant increase in cyber breaches in the first half of 2019

Cybersecurity experts from Bitdefender, a cybersecurity and antivirus company based in Romania, noted a significant hike in ransomware – over 64.66% – from January to May 2019. This is in addition to a 74% increase in ransomware-related cyber breaches since last year.

One of the most widespread ransomwares, GandCrab, is no longer a  major threat  anymore.  Nevertheless, eliminating it did not reduce the overall threat. Instead, new threats come up every week and every month, and security solutions are now more important than ever for businesses, governments and non-profits.

Some ransomware has focused on certain industries and has targeted specific types of infrastructure like educational institutions, and large organizations.  Other ransomware is less discriminating.


The expansion of the ransomware market


The proliferation of ransomware gets a significant boost from the lack of security solutions and the “it won’t happen to us” attitude that many organizations and businesses still cling to. Furthermore, to get their data back, affected organizations pay ransoms in cryptocurrency, which in turn encourages further attacks.


With more than 832 million types of malware out there, organizations across the gamut are at risk.  Diligent implementation of cybersecurity solutions and prevention tools are essential to detect and deter potential cyberattacks.


Hospitals a Choice Target for Cyber Attacks

Complex computer and data systems.  Sensitive personal information.  The need to function without interruption or downtime.  Insufficient cyber-defenses.  These are some of the weaknesses that make hospitals a target of choice for hackers and cyber attackers.

This year alone, approximately 32 million people have had their sensitive health-related information breached by hackers in over 311 cyberattack incidents against health care providers.  These attacks, even when not directly targeting patient care, have led to increased death rates among heart patients.

Complex Systems and a Large Amount of Data

The complex computer and data systems of hospitals make them an easy target for hackers.   Hospitals have to maintain several systems simultaneously to work properly. This includes medical records of people, internet-connected medical devices, and billing records. After mergers with other organizations, which have been increasing in recent years, the systems get even more complicated and confusing.

Cybersecurity experts believe that the hospitals make an attractive target for cybercriminals because hackers know that the hospitals have a complex network and insufficient cybersecurity tools. Furthermore, hospitals have to be open 24/7 and cannot afford any interruptions, making them a soft target.  Cybercriminals are aware that their ransomware demands won’t go unanswered when it comes to hospitals and public health.

Additionally, hospitals also often have weak cybersecurity and do not receive significant assistance from the government to shore up their cyber defences.

Attractive Information

Hackers also target hospitals because they have sensitive data like patient records, social security, and patient addresses. Hackers know that they can sell such data and earn large amount of money on the dark web.


Spotting Fake News: Not As Easy as People Think

Fake news is pretty confusing

Most people think they are very good at identifying fake news. But a recent study suggests that users have a lot of trouble telling the difference between fact and fiction.

The participants of the study were fitted with a wireless EEG
(electroencephalography) headset that tracked their brain while they read political news headlines that were similar to those found on Facebook.

Surprisingly, participants were able to assess only 44% of the given political news accurately. According to the researchers, the participants confused some of the fake news as truth because it conformed to their pre-existing beliefs and biases.  When fake news confirmed their pre-existing beliefs, they tended to view it as true. The low accuracy rate in identifying fake news shows that most users are not good at evaluating the  credibility of news found on social media, like a Facebook news feed, for example.

Patricia Moravec, the study’s lead author, said that everyone believes that they are better than the average person at detecting fake news, but that is simply not possible.

We are not as good as we think at detecting fake news

When it comes to detecting fake news, we are not as good as we think.

The research was done with the help of 80 social-media-proficient undergraduate students who were asked to answer at least 10 questions about their own political beliefs before taking part in the study.


Social Media: The Silver Platter for Identity Thieves

Why Not to Share Too Much about Kids on Social Media

It turns out that kids don’t like it when their parents share pictures or information about them on social media.  This is especially true for teens.  So say the reports of a recent poll taken by Microsoft.

While interesting, children’s preferences are not the main reason that parents should be careful with social media posts.  Security is.

Criminals and fraudsters look to many sources to collect information about potential victims. These sources include hacks of company databases (like Yahoo, Equifax, eBay), which yield sensitive information about their users.  They can involve low-tech methods like sifting through people’s mailboxes or trash for private information like social security number.

Serving Personal Information on a Silver Platter

In other cases, people hand over their personal information directly to criminals.  For example, a fake email can lead unsuspecting recipients to click or log in.  This could give thieves direct access to the victim’s computers or online accounts.

Social media is a shining example of handing information straight to criminals. People often overshare information on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  As a result, identity thieves can gather profiles on victims piece by piece.  One post might show a birthday.  Another might list all the members of the family. Another might mention a hometown or even an address. Slowly, enough of a profile comes together for a criminal to commit identity theft.

This is in addition to the dangers of predators who might use social media information to find victims.

Of course, safety is a significant reason for why parents should be very careful when posting about their children online. Extreme caution is a tool for parents to make sure they are not handing their own children’s private information to scammers or to others who would harm them.

Parents cannot control whether a major company gets hacked.  But they can take care not to hand over their own and their children’s personal information on a silver platter.


How to Prevent Cyber Attacks Effectively

Computer hacker silhouette of hooded man with binary data and network security terms

In a recent destructive phishing attack, a cybercriminal initially hacked the email of an exhibitions firm and then used a spoofed email to trick its client into wiring money to an overseas bank.

This is just one recent example of the many cyber-attacks around the world, and it is certainly not the last.  What can organizations big and small do to  prevent such attacks?

Email: the deadly gateway

Over 91% of all cyber attacks are triggered by email, according to a recent study.  PwC asked 3.5 thousand IT and business leaders worldwide about resilience in order to find out which organizations are prepared to face and recover quickly from a cyber attack, and to and understand their operations.

Organizations deemed to be high “RQ” (resilience quotient)  have shifted their approach from a model of disaster recovery followed by business continuity to one of “resilience by design”. The newer approach involved having real-time views of higher-priority processes in order to allow responders and decision makers to react to incidents with a unified front.

To fight cyber attacks, companies must know in advance, before any actual cyber attack, the severity, nature and length of the disruptions that it can endure. The company must plan for the worst, including getting cyber insurance, putting all its security operations and personnel in place, and leaving no area unguarded– especially its email system.

Tabletop tests

The PwC report stresses that organizations must proactively test their level of preparation, including through “tabletop tests” which are simulations in which to rehearse important communications during attacks and to identify gaps and dependencies in several essential processes.