BigTech’s failed response to the worst bugs in modern history reinforced the roadmap used to redirect accountability and perpetuate cybersecurity inequity.

Intel led an elite group in responding to the worst computer vulnerabilities in history. (Photo by Slejven Djurakovic on Unsplash)

In January 2021, Microsoft knowingly left customers exposed to an active cyber attack for at least two months while it fixed flaws in its Exchange software. A month earlier, SolarWinds admitted that an attacker was actively victimizing customers using malicious code that had be inserted into its software ten months prior. Despite the substantial harm caused by each event, the power the companies wield over customers will likely help them deflect significant accountability and reinforce a system of privilege that is steadily eroding global cyber defenses.

There are many other examples, but one 2018 disclosure serves as a foundational case…


Reports of another hidden cyber espionage campaign illustrate the power imbalance between technology titans and their customers

Defending systems is hard when you don’t know you’re under attack. (Andreas Steidlinger/Scopio)

Tens of thousands of small businesses and other organizations have just found out that sophisticated state-sponsored attackers are actively exploiting vulnerabilities in their email systems running Microsoft Exchange Server software. Because of the company’s position of privilege in the technology industry, it is unlikely to suffer any serious consequences for willfully and deliberately allowing the victimization of its customers.

According to reporting from KrebsOnSecurity, researchers from the security firm Volexity initially detected the attacks on January 6, 2021. Though the full reporting lineage is not publicly available, indications are that Microsoft has known about the cyber espionage campaign since at…

Memes make misinformation art until they are peddled as facts on social media.

Funny that this didn’t actually happen. (Edited screenshot from the News Literacy Project)

There is nothing inherently wrong with generating fake news and misinformation, so long as it is properly framed as such. Great minds throughout history have been purveyors of hyperbole and falsehoods that we might find indistinguishable from many of the viral misinformation campaigns that persist on contemporary social media platforms. Indeed, the use of satire as an artistic vehicle for exploring irony and contradiction is well established and (generally) acceptable.

Mark Twain is one of the most famous and well-regarded satirists in American history. Much of his work drips with the acceptance of abuse, segregation, and exceptionalism wryly wrapped within…

Conspiracy theorists could have gotten away with fake Biden if not for these darn facts about optical illusions.

Modified Screenshot by the News Literacy Project.

Complex psychological principles are often critical for understanding an individual’s susceptibility to believing fake news and misinformation they find on social media. What false information most people will interpret as outlandish can seem consistent and mundane to those regularly exposed to it. Though fake news purveyors often manipulate and frame information to make it more appealing for propagation, sometimes evidence is just so naturally extraordinary that even knowledgeable people can find plausibility in conspiracy.

A recent video of President Biden speaking to reporters provides a great example of content that simply lends itself to inviting misdirected framing. As Biden approaches…

Questioning what they might be hiding is part of a viral social media fake news conspiracy

Sagging boots fuel a conspiracy theory. (Screenshot by Snopes)

One of the most insidious characteristics of fake news and misinformation is the use of leading questions to infer a plausible but nonexistent fantasy. Sometimes, the purveyor attempts to rationalize an evidentiary basis for asking a question to falsely imply that a nefarious something is being hidden by some shadow agent.

That is the method used by a viral social media campaign to legitimize the risk of infertility by the COVID-19 vaccines. …

Former President Trump DID NOT make a surprise visit to Switzerland aboard a US Marine Corps helicopter.

Edited screengrab from the News Literacy Project.

Social media is a cesspool of fake news and misinformation because users allow it to be. Its platforms make distributing content from disreputable sources quick and easy because they intentionally lack the controls that legitimate and authoritative news outlets employ to verify facts and filter out falsehoods. Instead, social media companies expect users to adjudicate the veracity of content they see before sharing it with others. Either out of ignorance, malice, or amusement, common users will generally choose the irrational dopamine drip of likes and shares over evidentiary truth when judging social media postings.

Repackaging old news is a common…

Deepfake technology may be destroying society one celebrity at a time

Video Screenshot by the News Literacy Project.

Deepfake technology, machine learning software that anyone can use to create false images and videos of people and events, has evolved so much since its rudimentary introduction in 2017 that most humans (and computers) can now be easily tricked into believing its true. It will rapidly emerge as the most significant fake news threat to modern society.

Just ask Tom Cruise.

Based on an analysis from the excellent News Literacy Project, a recently created TicToc account, @deeptomcruise, posted a series of three videos in late February that demonstrate the shocking sophistication of deepfake technology. In each of the videos, the…

A fake news analysis to help anyone combat social media falsehoods and gaslighting

Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

Fake news resides between the lines of what is stated versus what is not, often subverting facts just enough to make fantasy plausible. Scientific study, essentially the collection of observations and evidence to determine fundamental truths about the physical and natural world, probably makes for an easy victim because its basis for studying “what if” questions is so broadly fictionalized in popular culture.

Vaccines are legendary fake news targets because the science of medicine is rarely absolute, allowing even the faintest hint of exception to fester into something that can undermine an entire result. Every human being is different and…

Retaining business customers is critical for Zoom as it battles for the video conferencing market crown

Rapid recent customer growth forced Zoom to save its brand. (Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

After quietly building a strong customer base with little fanfare, Zoom became a household name as users flocked to its freemium videoconferencing service to stay connected during the worldwide pandemic. Zoom’s number of daily active meeting participants grew from 10 million in December 2019 to over 300 million by the end of April 2020. That increase in just five months eclipsed deep-pocketed competitors like Microsoft (an increase from 20 million to 75 million daily active users on its Teams service in about the same timeframe) and Google (100 million daily active users on Meet).

Following a series of announcements from…

It is time to proudly show the faces of resilience to the world

Photo by Chris Hall on Unsplash

I have been hiding in my apartment for over two months, scrolling through social media for a glimmer of hope that there was someone, anyone, I could identify with. All of my friends seemed too content at suddenly shutting down their lives. Oh, I played along for a while, pleasantly attending unnecessary morning standup video conferences without complaining about how much remote work sucks, calling my parents during the week, and joining a few Zoom happy hours while drinking heavily, alone. …

Michael Figueroa (He/Him)

Latinx tech & biz exec making solutions more accessible for mission-driven orgs. Fmr President, Advanced Cyber Security Center.

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