Laura Galante works in Cyberspace, Information Operations and Intelligence Analysis in Washington D.C. and recently give a speech on cyber security and its most recent effects on democracy.
It is now known in the mainstream the extent to which Russia was involved in manipulating America's 2016 elections by hacking and disseminating information online – all while social media and the mainstream media took the bait and didn't recognize the purpose of these leaks until it was too late. Galante emphasizes that Russia has been involved in the manipulation of cyber space for much longer than just the past two years. She proposes a hypothetical situation where someone may hate democracy and wants to see its downfall. There are two ways to try to undermine it – either by criticizing it or by making its supporters question the system. Russia has been successful in doing the latter through the Internet, recognizing the risks and opportunities that immediate access to the Internet has offered us, and the rest of the world has been unequipped to deal with the country's attacks.
Galante emphasized that the real operations are ones that affect people's decisions and opinions, and distract people from the underlying intent and nefarious end-goals of the attackers at hand. While she mentions fake news, she also decries the sensationalized soundbites of information that led people to mistrust Hillary Clinton – functioning as a distraction from the more sinister processes at play during the election (both at the hands of Russia, and its preferred candidate). Although some of this sensationalized information was true at its core, Galante ponders: "how meaningful are these truths if you don't know why they've been revealed to you?"
Galante ends her speech on cyber security and its effect on democracy by encouraging viewers to use their most valuable weapon – their ability to think critically and pursue facts in the information age.
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