22 December 2016
Technology brings convenience even as it exposes societies to a wide array of risks. Many national security issues Singapore may face will emanate from the fact that our lives have fused with technology. Smartphones have become an extension of our brains, our devices watch our behaviour as much as we watch them, and social media influences what we believe to be true. This technological genie can neither be put back into the bottle, nor should we attempt to be Luddites and avoid progress. As such, it behoves us to be aware of the possible dangers so that we can take steps to mitigate them.
The Distortion of Perception
The viral spread of fake news and misinformation online gained international notoriety in this year’s post-factual United States presidential election campaign.
A major state actor (Russia) has been accused of manipulating opinion and decision-making to create discord, uncertainty and doubt to achieve its political objectives — the same tactics it has been accused of employing against Estonia and Ukraine in the near past.
This is worrying because any other state, or terrorist group, can easily adopt these tactics anonymously in situations where they feel diplomacy would be ineffective and all-out war would be too costly. Moreover, the tactics are also available to cyber criminals to exploit for profit.
While propaganda and psychological operations are old tactics of information warfare, social media groups have amplified their reach exponentially today, as each group self-selects and trusts its own messages, bypassing (and often rejecting) critical peer review, and supporting their own biases.
… Dr Norman Vasu is deputy head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. Benjamin Ang is coordinator of the Cybersecurity Programme in the same Centre.
CENS / Online / Print
Last updated on 22/12/2016