The rise of social media is not the rise of deception. The rise of social media is the rise of awareness.
“The information the social media deception videos and overall campaign convey will increase individuals’ awareness of the dangers in cyberspace and provide common-sense tools to protect themselves from bad actors, be they criminals or foreign intelligence entities,” said NCSC Director Bill Evanina.
The NCSC launched the campaign last month in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management records breach to help those individuals, government or otherwise, whose personal information has been compromised. The launch videos focused on “Spear Phishing Attacks,” while the final sets of videos—to be released in November and December, respectively—will focus on human targeting and awareness for travelers. Each release contains a 30-45-second overview video and a more in-depth two minute video.
The Osama Bin Laden story And My Lai
What was perhaps most shocking of all, though, was that this elaborate narrative was being unspooled not by some basement autodidact but by one of America’s greatest investigative reporters, the man who exposed the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai (1969), who revealed a clandestine CIA programme to spy on antiwar dissidents (1974) and who detailed the shocking story of the abuses at Abu Ghraib (2004). Could the bin Laden article be another major Hersh scoop?
‘‘It’s always possible,’’ Bowden told me. ‘‘But given the sheer number of people I talked to from different parts of government, for a lie to have been that carefully orchestrated and sustained to me gets into faked-moon-landing territory.’’ Other reporters have been less generous still.
‘‘What’s true in the story isn’t new, and what’s new in the story isn’t true,’’ said Peter Bergen of CNN, who wrote his own best-selling account of the hunting and killing of bin Laden, Manhunt. And US government officials were least receptive of all. Josh Earnest, then the White House spokesman, said Hersh’s ‘‘story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods.’’Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said it was ‘‘largely a fabrication.’’ (There were ‘‘too many inaccuracies to even bother going through them line by line.’’)
Junaid Hussain, a British citizen in his early 20s, had risen fast to become a chief in Islamic State’s electronic army. One person familiar with the matter said he hacked dozens of U.S. military personnel and published personal and financial details online, including those of a general, for others to exploit.
He helped sharpen the terror group’s defense against Western surveillance and built hacking tools to penetrate computer systems, said people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Hussain was killed by a U.S. drone strike in August while he was in a car in Raqqa, Syria, U.S. officials said. That he was targeted directly shows the extent to which digital warfare has upset the balance of power on the modern battlefield.
U.S. officials said they believe Mr. Hussain played an important role in recruiting two American Muslims to open fire in Garland, Texas, this spring on a contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. He also frequently hacked into U.S. service members’ Facebook accounts to determine personal details and future targets, one of the people familiar with the probe said.
“If you don’t have anybody who is kind of fluent in computer operations, you’ve got a problem,” said Michael Sulmeyer, a former cyberpolicy expert for the Pentagon now at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “The ballgame is pretty much the coder or the individual.”
Mr. Hussain drew attention from U.S. and British intelligence and military agencies in part because of his efforts to recruit and incite violence, said one U.S. official. His importance to Islamic State made him a legitimate target, the official said. “Leadership: That is what gets our attention.”