Earlier this week, I learnt some quite terrifying things about the Internet and it how it’s being used. I’ll have to admit, I am quick to dismiss anything regarding hackers, theft and fraud impeding my Internet use or devices, and I have often only just glossed over the idea of government censorship on the Internet. So while I felt like a huge failure of a communications and media student for not knowing these things earlier, I soon found out a lot of peers and friends alike were also hearing of them for the first time.
There is no ‘delete button’ in cyberspace
Ironic, right? Nope. While I was previously aware that whatever we put on the Internet is there forever, I was pretty concerned when I found out that whatever we are actually doing on the Internet is also always being recorded without our control (Mitew, 2014). Apparently, it is easier to record everything than to delete unwanted bits of information. This makes me kind of feel bad for taking up so much of the Internet’s space with hundreds of photos of my breakfasts and my beagle, but then I also feel like saying something witty and philosophical about revenge and karma and privacy as well.
Hackers can’t all be like Snowden
Okay, well this I knew already, but learning about LulzSec just made it seem all the more real that hackers may just be ordinary people looking for the next hack adrenaline rush (such disappoint, much sad). In one of their attacks, they targeted Sony’s PlayStation network by compromising users’ personal and confidential details such as birth dates, email address and bank details. Why? Just for the lols, apparently. And to prove how insecure their system is. Makes sense… kind of. Good one.
The government is a bunch of trolls
The biggest bombshell of the week for me was learning about the US government’s creation of fake online identities as a means to subvert public discourse. WHAT?! Okay, I could be naïve or my interests just never got me that deep into Google, but learning that governments have created a “fake virtual army of people” (Mitew, 2014) shocked me. Lee (2012) detailed that these false personas were fully equipped with all social media accounts and email addresses to pull off the act, and were designed to subvert public discourse by ‘countering misinformation’ and to create a ‘semblance of consensus’. This could be the most concerning of all things happening in cyberspace right now, and in accordance with Mitew, it is possibly even more pernicious than all other cyber attacks.