Social Media

July 1, 2021
By Lt. Col. Ryan Kenny, USA
Defending digital ecosystems from information pollution data operators should be a mission the U.S. national security apparatus conducts.  Shutterstock/ NDE12019

3rd Place in The Cyber Edge 2021 Writing Contest

A military-age male left home and traveled through the city, unaware he was being surveilled. Those watching him knew his patterns and preferences. They collected his point of departure, route and destination to predict when he would be most vulnerable for attack. Arriving at a marketplace, he meandered through a few high-traffic areas. Passing down a quiet corridor, he finally provided a clear shot. His smartphone buzzed and its screen flashed: “Two-for-one sale at the nearby pretzel shop!” He was struck by a precision-guided advertisement.

July 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The discovery and taming of fire changed the way humans lived. Its broad range of uses came with both benefits and hazards. It could enable life in harsh environments, but it could also serve as an instrument of destruction. The same dichotomy holds true with social media today, but its ill effects cannot be easily extinguished.

April 1, 2019
By Donara Barojan
While U.S. officials have focused on how Russia’s use of social media may have interfered with the 2016 presidential elections, Iran has been quietly using the platforms to forge a battle of its own. Credit: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock.com

Russia may have popularized the manipulation of social media to further its own agenda, but it was not the first country to do so, nor will it be the last. A number of other countries are engaging in similar tactics, but so far have flown largely under the radar. The Oxford Internet Institute found that at least 28 countries worldwide are exploiting social media to influence the public opinion of their own or foreign populations.

April 1, 2019
By Lydia Snider
Although social media platforms appear to connect individuals in similar groups, analysis of social activities enables advertisers—and adversaries—to target specific messages to users who are most likely to be influenced by certain posts. Credit: metamorworks/Shutterstock

Many people have written marketing off as frivolous, but it is a field of constant data-driven experimentation, and in the past decade social media sites such as Facebook have become state-of-the-art laboratories for honing influence messaging. In the information revolution marketplace, the organization with the most data and the ability to utilize it wins.

January 1, 2019
By Rand Waltzman
The ability to create a digital alter ego would put control of sharing personal information in an individual’s hand. Artificial intelligence within the device also would warn an owner when data is likely disinformation aimed at influencing behavior. Credit: sdecoret/Shutterstock.com

Up until the digital age, wars involved a limited number of combatants with clear identities battling within distinct boundaries visible on a map. These conflicts ended either with a victor or as a stalemate. But today’s information warfare does not fit this traditional model. Instead, it comprises an unlimited number of potential combatants, many with hidden identities and agendas.

Cyberspace is a theater of operations that is nowhere and everywhere. Within this domain, information warfare will not and in fact cannot come to any conclusion. This conflict closely resembles an incurable disease that can be managed so the patient can lead a productive life but is never completely cured.

September 1, 2018
By Timur Chabuk and Adam Jonas
Credit: Azret Ayubov/Martial Red/Le_Mon/Shutterstock

Russia’s ability to evolve its use of information operations to leverage social media and the cyber domain continues to shock and challenge the world community. The country’s actions, especially during the 2016 U.S. elections, have brought cyber information operations out of the shadows and into the limelight. Now, state and nonstate actors are frequently using similar techniques to influence the public and achieve political goals once only attainable through armed conflict.

July 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers

While many government organizations are seeking to expand their social media influence, one social media group is expanding its influence within government.

The Social Media Working Group for Emergency Services and Disaster Management operates as a subcommittee under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Science and Technology Advisory Committee, but it is on its way to becoming a full-fledged federal advisory committee.

December 1, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor

When stranded flood victims could not get through to 911 during Hurricane Harvey, they posted on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to reach out for help. Hashtags such as #SOSHouston and #SOSHarvey were used to flag citizen rescuers.

In a first, the U.S. Coast Guard’s social media team saw trapped survivors turn to social media during the coastal Texas storm. As the number of posts spiked, the Coast Guard National Command Center (NCC) began to receive calls from concerned citizens who also noticed the pleas for help on these platforms.

June 29, 2017
By Adam B. Jonas

On the eve of last year’s U.S. presidential election, two computational social scientists from the University of Southern California published an alarming study that went largely unnoticed in the flood of election news. It found that for a month leading up to the November vote, a large portion of users on the social media platform Twitter might not have been human.

The users were social bots, or computer algorithms built to automatically produce content and interact with people on social media, emulating them and trying to alter their behavior. Bots are used to manipulate opinions and advance agendas—all part of the increasing weaponization of social media.

April 9, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor

Cosmo: There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think ... it's all about the information!

February 25, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Example of McAfee phishing quiz, determined to be among the most successful phishing email sample to compromise victims' computers through a malicious URL.

The European Union faces the same formidable increase in cyber attacks perpetrated by adversaries with improved scope and sophistication as the United States—but comes up against issues compounded by disparate national laws and cybersecurity expertise, experts say.

March 1, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Government may have been in the slow lane to accept social media as a viable conduit for sharing information, but agencies are now coordinating their efforts to ensure messages going out to the public can be trusted. Members of a panel discussing its uses at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference said the technologies that facilitate ubiquitous communications among the public are merely another change in generations of changes. The key is that the same principles that govern reliable news reports and privacy and civil liberties protections apply whether the public is depending on newspapers, broadcast, Facebook, Skype or Twitter, they agreed.

February 28, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

Channel surfing gets social. The free Peel app for iOS and Android makes personalized recommendations for TV shows based on your viewing history and what your friends are watching. The program, developed by Peel Technologies Incorporated, lets you sign in, find and follow your friends, and see their favorite shows. You can share what you're watching, give program recommendations, add comments to the discussion boards and see what others are viewing in real time. Like Pandora or Netflix, the app provides better suggestions for new shows as it learns more about your tastes and preferences. It also features a list of what shows are trending in the app.

February 24, 2012
By Beverly Schaeffer

Given some of the most shocking emergency events of the past decade, whether on school campuses, severe weather conditions, or the overall climate of hyper-awareness in the United States following 9/11, the ability to provide real-time public warnings has become a huge priority. The current Emergency Alert System (EAS), and its predecessor, the Emergency Broadcast System, or EBS, date back to 1951. But present-day capabilities, brought about by advanced satellite and other systems technologies-including the Internet and social media tools-provide the very capabilities necessary to deliver an alert with time enough to spare to enable proactive measures.

November 2, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

As social media permeates deeper into military organizations, leaders are confronting a host of challenges. However, those challenges largely are new incarnations of longstanding problems that have faced military communicators for generations. A panel of experts at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 focused on how information sharing can exist within an information security environment. Many of their concerns proved to be more user-oriented than technology-based. Addressing those concerns, Master Sgt. Andrew Baker, USA, 516th Signal Brigade, said that forces need to be more operations-security (OPSEC) oriented with new media.

September 14, 2011
By George Seffers

The possibility of classified or sensitive information being leaked to social media websites is an increasing concern for government and military officials, but two products-Vantage and Unified Security Gateway (USG)-may help plug the leaks. Vantage supports a variety of platforms, including Microsoft Lync Server, Office Communications Server, IBM Sametime, Cisco Unified Presence, Jabber, and public instant messaging platforms, including Skype and Web conferencing tools. Vantage ensures a scalable, secure, managed solution is available for any of the leading platforms, according to officials at Actiance Incorporated, Belmont, California, the maker of both products.

August 23, 2011
By Rita Boland
April 29, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

As the U.S. Coast Guard examines new ways to consolidate its logistics systems into a single business model, it is using social media platforms to open a dialogue with government and industry. In the process, the guard is learning how the acquisition community responds to unfamiliar tools in their familiar environment.

In this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine, Editor in Chief Robert K. Ackerman describes how these social platforms are helping to solve age-old problems in his article, "Coast Guard Logistics Learns Social Media."

March 8, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

The U.S. Army's updated Social Media Handbook is now available on the iPhone. The Army's Online and Social Media Division teamed up with the Sustainment Center of Excellence Mobile Team of the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia, to build and test and app in early February. Users can use the app to search for information related to social media best practices, branding, case studies, frequently asked questions and policies. The program includes Defense Department guidance about the responsible and effective use of Internet capabilities.

August 16, 2010
By Beverly Schaeffer

A changing of the guard is underway in the federal information technology (IT) arena, with Net Generation newbies beginning to fill the void left by retiring Baby Boomers. Seasoned employees hold expertise and institutional knowledge, while young talent brings with it technical savvy in the world of Web 2.0. In her article "Government Prepares for Work Force Changes" in this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine, News Editor Rita Boland explores the changes taking place in the makeup of the IT workplace, and how organizations can prepare for a smooth adjustment.

July 29, 2010
By Rachel Eisenhower

Social media use by federal employees and contractors increased dramatically in the last year, but many people still wonder if it is safe and business savvy to jump in to online networking, according to a recent survey.

July 22, 2010
By Rachel Eisenhower

The U.S. Defense Department's hub for all things social media has undergone a serious facelift, complete with tips, tricks and lessons on how to share information responsibly and effectively.

The Social Media Hub was redesigned to help members of the Defense Department community understand what constitutes proper use of Internet-based capabilities. The new site contains learning resources, detailed department policies and procedures, and social media guides for each military service branch.

April 8, 2010
By H. Mosher

The Department of Defense yesterday launched the Open Government Plan, its latest salvo aimed at increasing transparency and opportunities for engagement and collaboration. From Elizabeth McGrath, DoD Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer:

April 6, 2010
By Katie Packard

I keep up with all things social media and Web 2.0 related by reading Mashable, one of the largest blogs focused specifically on these topics. Now fans like me can read Mashable on the go with the Mashable iPhone app. The free tool allows users to browse by channel, category, tag or author; share stories via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook; save stories to read offline later; and more. For more information or to download the application, visit the iTunes store.

February 26, 2010
By Katie Packard

The U.S. Defense Department has announced its policy on "Responsible and Effective Use of Internet-Based Capabilities"--in less formal words, its social and new media policy. This is the DOD's first official policy on new media. It states that the NIPRNET default will be open access so that all of the DOD can use new and social media. Under this policy, prohibited content sites such as gambling sites will still be blocked, but otherwise there will be open access across the department.

February 25, 2010
 

The popularity and growth of social media networks and blogs offers federal agencies new tools to get their message to the nation's citizens. However, the openness of social media platforms also presents a security challenge. A panel of government and commercial media experts pondered the implications of widespread adoption of social media platforms at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. The U.S. military has recently adopted social networking as an extension of its public affairs activities. Col. Kevin V. Arata, USA, director of the Army Online and Social Media Division, explained that the service wanted to formalize how it approached social media.

February 22, 2010
 

No, I'm not talking about the classic Marilyn Monroe film; I'm talking about AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference, going on this Wednesday and Thursday. The theme is "DHS: The 7-Year Itch-Renewing the Commitment." The event will cover such topics as cybersecurity, securing social media, transparency, identity management, information and intelligence sharing, and more. Speakers include Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and W. Ralph Basham.

January 28, 2010
By Katie Packard

Next week is the West 2010 Conference in San Diego. For those of you who will be attending the conference, we look forward to seeing you there. (Look for the SIGNAL editors to say hello--we'll be the ones running around to all of the events, frantically taking notes and muttering to ourselves.) If you're unable to attend but want to keep up with the conversations and discussions, there are plenty of ways to tune in:

Follow @signalmag on Twitter and use the hashtag #west10.

Read our editors' blog coverage here on SIGNAL Scape.

January 1, 2014
By Nicole Woodroffe

Few people go more than a few days without updating their Facebook status, “checking-in” at some location on their social media application or tweeting their opinions on Twitter. Service members are no exception. However, they must take extra precautions to avoid the legal pitfalls of compromising operational security or making inappropriate remarks when posting anything on public websites. The legal ramifications for improperly posting information or photos on nonsecure websites, compromising operational security, varies greatly depending on an individual’s situation, what information is disclosed and the results from the disclosure.

October 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
The U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) National Security Operations Center (NSOC) serves as the heart of the NSA’s signals intelligence reporting. The part of signals intelligence that covers social media may spin off into its own discipline as intelligence experts refocus their means of collection and analysis of the unique data it can provide.

The Arab Spring, which rose from street-level dissent to form a mass movement, might not have come as a surprise to intelligence agencies if only they had been able to read the tea leaves of social media. The characteristics of social media that differentiate it from other messaging media are compelling intelligence officials to change the way they derive valuable information from it. As a result, experts are calling for the creation of a new discipline that represents a separate branch of intelligence activity.