Disinformation is false or misleading information intentionally spread to deceive viewers and/or readers. Disinformation is propaganda which uses social engineering techniques to manipulate people into believing the information presented is factual. This propaganda has been used by Nation States to sway the thoughts of their citizens. Social engineering mixes just enough truth with a set of lies to make the propaganda seem plausible.

Recently, Twitter has taken down over 32,000 accounts they believed to be circulating disinformation within the Nation States of China, Russia, and Turkey. China, the main culprit believed to be behind these fake accounts, had bots that were highly engaged with users. The Chinese campaign focused mainly on trying to shape and manipulate positive opinions about China in the ongoing fight between mainland China and Hong Kong which itself is fighting to retain its local political independence.

The United States isn’t free of disinformation either, as many social media accounts circulate disinformation today seeking to sway people’s thoughts and opinions on events happening within the US and across the world.

Source: KnowBe4

Additional Reading: E.U. Accuses China of Waging Pandemic Disinformation Campaign

Related Terms: Social Engineering, Social Media Bots

What does this mean for an SMB?

It’s important that your employees are aware of the constant spread of disinformation on the Internet, training them to spot social engineering attacks can help much more than just disinformation campaigns. Social engineering attacks have been used in the past to phish employees or to gain access to a business’s network, allowing hackers to steal whatever they want.
CyberHoot’s Tips to analyze and validate information:
  • Identify the sources.
      • Is there an Author?

      • Is the publication legitimate?

      • Do they have the proper company URL?

  • Look beyond the headline.
      • Are there spelling and grammar errors?
      • Are their fake names or profiles being used?
      • Are there inflammatory claims creating outrage and indignation?
  • Recognize satire.
  • Where does the story get it’s support?
      • Does the article link to or reference actual research?
      • Is the publication financially backed by another organization that could create bias in the writing?
  • Consider your own bias.
      • It’s possible to feel strongly about an article or headline due to it confirming your opinions (confirmation bias).
      • Consider the facts objectively.
TIPS To spot and avoid social engineering attacks:
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious emails.
  • Research the company in question and call them to verify if you are suspicious.
  • Don’t download any attachments from an email that you are suspicious of.
  • Download software/antivirus directly from the vendor’s correct website. Be careful not to click on look-alike domains.
  • Do not click on links that say your device is infected.
  • Pay attention to the URL, attackers often typosquat URLs, making them look legit by inserting similar looking letters (www.googie.com).
  • Before entering personal information online, ensure the site is HTTPS protected by looking at the URL (https://cyberhoot.com). 
  • Be aware of antivirus or web browser warnings of potentially dangerous sites.

To learn more about Disinformation and how to recognize it, watch this short video:

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