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Information as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

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  • Oct 5, 2007
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Information is the single most important thing that moves the global economy, influences political regimes, and constructs human behavior. It is a tool of our trade and a powerful ally, but is mainly a weapon of mass destruction. Information management and manipulation, social engineering, and traffic shaping are the black crafts of the digital age. Petko D. Petkov, a.k.a. pdp, discusses just a few of the many disciplines that largely involve information as a tool to spread false beliefs and fears (and influence the masses, too).

Information is the single most important thing that moves the world economy, influences political regimes, and constructs human behavior. Information is a sequence of bits and pieces that, when put together, defines meaningful thoughts.

Meaningful to whom? Strings, numbers, records—these are the things that our reasonable mind relies on. Our lives are based on facts, which can be manipulated for our own good or bad.

Being a security expert, I see more of the latter. Information has become the equivalent of gold in today’s electronic age. It is a tool of our trade and a powerful ally, but mainly a weapon of mass destruction. There are countless real-life examples in which information is used to cause harm and even more real-life cases of information terrorism, which has reached a size beyond our imagination.

Call it Black PR, industrial espionage, information warfare...all make use of the latest information-gathering techniques to stay ahead in the black information market. Information management and manipulation, social engineering, and traffic shaping are the black crafts of the digital age.

In this article I discuss just a few of the many disciplines that largely involve information as a tool to spread false beliefs and fears (and influence the masses, too).

The knowledge of these disciplines was acquired by performing information security audits for the government sector and big financial organizations during the last four years of my life and also by participating in various discussion forums on the topic of modern Black PR practices.

Black Public Relations (Black PR)

Those who control the information flow now govern the world. New technologies and web applications have changed the entire communication blueprint. The big corporations have realized that they might lose control over the masses by letting normal people produce and share their own content—a trend that is already happening with the growth of Web 2.0 social technologies.

Getting into a person’s mind and maintaining a good reputation is becoming more and more difficult than ever before. Companies are being forced to compete under different sets of rules and exposed practices that were unthinkable years ago.

There are many evidences that Black PR (the process of harming someone’s identity and repute) leaves its eastern roots and is being chosen as a main communication tool by many western industries. According to Ivana Kalay (founder of SpinHunters, the first PR security company in the world), the tendencies show that many highly skilled black-hats (skilled information security hackers who pursue their interests illegally) will be hired by large enterprises to get into internal rival’s network and steal sensitive information.

This information includes employee names, data with consumer complaints, and shareholder’ details. After profound professional analysis, this information will be used to create various communication plans to be used against the former owner.

Of course, none of the companies will make this type of confession, but the CEO of one of the most influential PR firms (Burson-Marsteller) and present chief strategist for the Hillary Clinton election campaign was recently accused of wire-tapping his ex-associates.

Black PR leads not only to the collapse of small/middle-sized business but also to the birth of a new black-hat hacker elite, which will be well funded and politically protected.

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