Security

Why cognitive hacking is a public health crisis

Cyberwar tactics come in many different forms. Cognitive hacking is one that Americans need to be especially aware of.


TechRepublic's Dan Patterson met with contributor Gregory Michaelidis to discuss how cognitive hacking-or as he would call it 'cyberdability'-is the next form of cyber warfare.

Cognitive hacking, is the idea that people, in this case specifically Americans, are struggling with discerning content and propaganda from legitimate information. It's starting to erode our confidence in democracy, Michaelidis said.

He describes this idea as "an undiagnosed condition," similar to a public health crisis without a known diagnosis, and where the symptoms vary from person to person. Often times, Americans are not prepared with the sense of skepticism, which makes them vulnerable to cognitive hacking attempts.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the threat of cyberwarfare (Tech Pro Research)

Cognitive hacking can come in many forms, he continued, such as fake news spreading throughout social media. Russia, for example, has recently used this tactic as a way to confuse Americans during elections, and insert themselves in domestic issues by influencing people via Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter.

"We need to be able to ask ourselves as Americans, or as consumers of information and culture, whether something that you're hearing is really just appealing to your biases or instincts and telling you what you want to hear," he said. "And to have the same sense of scrutiny that you would with those online media and those online channels that you would have if you were reading a book."

Michaelides suggests for people who want to minimize the influence of cognitive hacking to purposefully reach out and follow individuals online with opposing political views and consciously do a better job of bringing other beliefs in, as well as using skepticism and scrutiny when consuming content online.

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Image: iStock/fizkes

About Leah Brown

Leah Brown is the Associate Social Media Editor for TechRepublic. She manages and develops social strategies for TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.

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