With the 2019 federal elections slowly creeping upon us, our newsfeeds will soon be littered with multiple links to help us become more educated and comfortable with who to vote for. Yet this year, Canada’s Cyber Spy Agency is warning us that foreign countries are “very likely” to influence Canadians during this next election through online fake news and we need to be more careful on what we actually believe.
In the year 2019, Canada's Spy Agency is predicting that every Canadian will encounter content that was posted by foreign countries that is aimed at swaying our political opinion here in Canada. This type of cybercrime has already occurred in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when mass amounts of fake news spread about both presidential candidates in an attempt to change the citizen's vote.
Scott Jones, head of Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, is telling us the best thing we can do is stay education when reading political content this upcoming year, “We are absolutely vulnerable to this type of activity but we can choose to be more critical consumers of information and be less susceptible to it,”. When scrolling through Facebook or Twitter we become even more at risk for reading these fake news stories without being aware of it.
The main way that this news is spread to us is through bot accounts that share fake news stories to help amplify certain political opinions. Bot Twitter accounts connected to a Russian agency have already posted about false Canadian news 8,000 times and these numbers are predicted to rise. The main goal of these foreign countries is to “discredit the democratic process”.
The Canadian Cyber Spy Agency has also stated that the biggest threat that we are facing, as Canadians, right now is cybercrime. One of the main things that this report is encouraging us to be careful about is internet-connected devices.
If you own a smart speaker, television, car or anything else ‘smart’ related you may want to be a bit more careful. Many cybercriminals are using these devices to steal and sell personal and financial information.
So, in these wise words of your old high school teacher, as political news starts to fill up your timeline, make sure to remember that not everything you read online is true.