We provide our data so openly in Internet, that can easily become victims of their usage against us. Additionally, our lives have become so dependent on technology that any cyberattack can make us completely helpless.
Data sharing in Internet
Twenty years ago, it would be hard to imagine, that presently we share our data so freely and the society encourages us to do. Who would believe in sharing a photo of the breakfast with the whole world on Instagram or giving the detailed address of the vacation hotel on Facebook? Every part of our life, every piece of private information, the place we live and stay can be available through our social nets. Why are we doing this without any fear? We know that such data can be used against us in many ways. It is well known, that employers check social media accounts of their prospective workers and some might lose the chance to get a job. Robbers may see your address and if you are at home or travelling right now. These are the simplest examples of modern improper data sharing in Internet. However, the consequences could be much more terrible.
The war of the new century has become informational. In every present conflict around the world Internet is a crucial weapon. Think of ISIS propaganda machine and its power of reaching people. European young men are found by their posts on social media account, where they show their despair and search for ‘high moral ideals. Russian girls post statuses that they are looking for real love and later receive a message from ‘a real man’ fighting a holy war. Terrorists analyze posts, photos and the personal information of various people and contact exactly the people who might be interested in joining them.
When MH-17 flight was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, Russian backed separatists celebrated it on their social media accounts, as they thought the Ukrainian plane was killed. After the reality appeared, the soldiers deleted the previous posts rapidly. However, the data was already seen in Internet and stays a perfect evidence of their crimes. Photos of Russian soldiers in Ukraine, which they put on their accounts, show the evidence of Russian military presence in the war in Ukraine.
Even if we decide to delete all the information about us from the web, the footprint the data already left gives a chance for renovation. Probably, in the future the will be a great demand for specialists that could permanently delete our information from the Internet.
From another point of view, once you are using Internet you are becoming an easy goal for every kind of influence. Your social media profiles give an insight into your interests and daily life. Your search requests help to identify your opinions.
There is a mind, that careful data gathering from social accounts helped Donald Trump to win the presidential elections in the USA. Taking data from Facebook accounts is a powerful tool that can be used for business and political purposes.
Think what news appear on your Facebook profiles and during your search in google. Are not they all the time from the similar sources? Do not you feel like always reading the information confirming already accepted point of view?
Although, most government data are much more protected than the ones of an ordinary Internet users, even young hacker can threaten the whole country’s security. Hacker attacks can leave the whole cities and even countries without electricity, which would be the end of our normal world. They can challenge factories or nuclear power plants, as it was the case for damage of centrifuges used in the Iranian nuclear program.
Cyber warfare is widely used as a political instrument. Russia used cyberattacks during Estonian dispute in 2007, Georgian war in 2008 and against Ukrainian state institutions in 2016. Latest Russian cyberattacks threatened the USA and the European Union. Through their interference into American latest elections, Russian hackers helped Donald Trump to win. The following French and German elections will probably become the next goal for Russian cyber warfare. Cyber security has become an important part of NATO agenda. Seminars, researches and discussions on cyber warfare become every time more popular and more people are taking the threat very seriously. The attacker is extremely difficult to be identified and the responsible people and states can hardly meet any consequences.
What can we do to protect ourselves? A common advice – not to share personal sensitive information in Internet. I would suggest to think over and analyze, meet people with different opinions, search in the web for ideas we do not definetely support and look at the things from the various angles. We should not believe in everything which is served to us and catch up every ‘sensation’. Our governments should protect their systems every time more, train better IT specialists, but also be prepared for the possible cyberattack and plan the alternative way of action.