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“Education from childhood is and will be decisive in a digital future”

“Education from childhood is and will be decisive in a digital future”

Cyberattacks, disinformation, identity theft… a long way to go and a long way still to go, where education and information become fundamental pieces for a safer experience in the Internet universe. Yaiza Rubio, a member of the team of intelligence analysts at ElevenPaths, tells us about all this.

Security is a key piece in the process of exposing people to social networks due to the risks that it may entail. Cyberattacks, disinformation, identity theft… a long way to go and a long way still to go, where education and information become fundamental pieces, as he assures Yaiza Rubio.

With a degree in Information Sciences, this young hacker who is a member of the team of intelligence analysts at ElevenPaths, Telefónica’s cybersecurity unit, expanded her knowledge by studying three master’s degrees (Intelligence Analysis, Logistics and Defense Economics, and Technological Law and ICT), which have elevated Yaiza as female hacker reference in the world of cybersecurity.

The importance of privacy by default

How much information is deposited in a social network? Age, educational level, marital status, place and job… There is a lot of data that these platforms allow to share about people who register as users. It is easy to do it but not so much to protect them. “Certain platforms do not care enough about the privacy or security of their users by default,” says Yaiza, who gives Twitter as an example.

In fact, just a few days ago, Twitter asked its users to change their password for security reasons, due to an error in its system that has caused numerous user passwords to be saved in an undisclosed way. But also, the popular social network does not have a very secure way to access password recoveryand a third party could get hold of it without even notifying the user if they have not previously enabled the require box. personal information to recover my password. “Without being a great technical skill, this information could give rise to a more elaborate attack,” Yaiza specifies.

In any case, according to Yaiza, the relevance of privacy by default becomes even more important with the existence of social networks whose users are mainly teenagers, showing their concern about the numerous cases of cyberbullying through certain platforms where, if the option is not disabled, “anyone could contact them even anonymously.

A record with little verified information

Validating identity during the registration phase in social networks is a simple task. But how do you really confirm that this user is who he says he is? “While it is true that the best known social networks are increasingly putting more measures in place to ensure that there is a real identity behind a user”, there are still many platforms where disposable emails, those that are used temporarily; or the use of the Tor network, “whose main objective is to guarantee anonymity on the Internet”, are still accepted to register.

Information becomes permanent on the network

like the energy, information on social networks is neither created nor destroyed, it is only transformed. That is why users should bear in mind that no matter how hard they try to erase their data or remove it from their personal profile, “it does not mean that they are no longer available through other services”.

In this line, Yaiza highlights the archive.org project, which captures the status of different websites, and to which analysts frequently resort when they suspect “that a profile may have deleted or modified information on their profile.” A fact that shows that “we must assume that our footprint on the Internet is very difficult to eliminate.”

Similarly, “the fact that a social network will always be available has led malware creators to consider that these platforms are the perfect vehicle to anchor information.” And it is that, social networks have many advantages, but also weak points that used for inappropriate purposes can even become “the perfect means for the spread of threats due to the large public they are capable of reaching”.

The power of disinformation

Information is power, but not all information is worth being properly aware of things. Countering it is a costly analysis task that also becomes key in today’s world where so called “fake news” is on the rise

The speed and instantaneity do not favor the correct analysis of the information and give rise to this type of news, “pseudo journalistic products, whose ultimate goal is misinformation or deception”, nuances Yaiza. Cybersecurity experts are there to combat this practice.

“Intelligence analysts are used to evaluating all the evidence based on the reliability of the source and the credibility of its content,” says Yaiza, who also clarifies the importance of questioning why certain information has arrived at a certain time. “It can have a reason, an opportunity or a specific meaning, even leading us to make a decision against our interests.” And at this point, “one of the ways to combat fake news is precisely to make users aware so that they become” little information analysts, thus avoiding being manipulated in the face of certain events.

And at this point, stands out as an example the use of social networks by terrorist groupswho see in them “a perfect vehicle to ensure the dissemination of your message to an audience that they would not otherwise be able to access. To do this, according to the expert, they have developed an effective dissemination strategy through these platforms using applications that publish propaganda content in an automated way, something that the Security Forces and Bodies fight against on a daily basis.

Not only the end user is the target of cyberattacks

Security breaches in the privacy of social networks are already reaching everyone. There is no separation between end users and information stolen from large social networks, including cases of attacks on LinkedIn, MySpace or Badoo. Everything is sensitive to becoming the target of leaks.

So, if social networks themselves are not saved, how is it possible to be sure?* Simple. Yaiza’s recommendations go through a “non reuse of passwords while using second factors of authentication whenever possible”, assuming that 100% security does not existand that “both the users or the companies in which we delegate our trust can be the target of security incidents.”

Not everything is lost

The door to hope also has a place in the digital world. Perhaps the risks that the user has to face are a bit scary, but it is only a small battle where there are still good soldiers. “There are profiles within computer security that share their knowledge without anything in return, whose sole objective is to raise awareness among those segments of the population that may be unaware of the risks involved in using the Internet,” Yaiza emphasizes.

And in this scenario, in our hacker’s opinion, education from childhood is and will be decisive in a digital future. “Minimum safety training for the little ones and their environment is already essential in a world that has the vestiges of becoming completely digital”, and where the best is yet to come.