This past week, Google acknowledged the issue regarding online political ads stating that they would implement new disclosure rules for these ads including reporting their funding source and what users they are targeting (source). In past weeks, we’ve discussed how we want ads to supply more information about them so that users can make more educated decisions for themselves, but this week we saw how this would not necessarily solve any problems. For example, for political ads funded by Russia, the funding source could just pay another source so that it looks like Russia did not fund the ad. This topic was again brought up in this week’s discussion with Dr. Michael Sulmeyer.
I found the question Dr. Sulmeyer proposed about if we thought the Russian interference with the election was an act of cyber war interesting. I do believe the interference was an attack, but I don’t think that this type of war will be treated the same as a combat war. I do feel that a response should be sent back, but it is hard to attack with an equal caliber because doing the same thing to Russia (interfering with election) would basically not change anything. The Russian regime wants to exploit whatever weaknesses they can find. In the past election, this meant attacking the fundamental rights of the United States by going after our right to vote. Usually, the government will want to attack the regime and not the people, but it feels like Russia attacked people through the government because they messed with our rights. In order for a response from the United States, they need to find a relatively strong way to send a powerful message to the Russian regime while not hurting the Russian people.
We also discussed cyber protection in today’s day and age. Dr. Sulmeyer was asked if he believes there are any current good models for cyber protection. After thinking for a bit, he responded, “Not really.” This raises the question of what defines a good model for cyber protection, and how do we as a government and nation improve our cyber protection. Cyber warfare will continue to grow which means that we will need a reliable form of protection. Dr. Sulmeyer sees the British and Israelis as good examples of innovators in improving cyber security. They still haven’t developed a great method for protection, but are actively trying new methods. I think this has to become a central issue in the government to create a form of protection that will help us identify and prevent cyber attacks.
One topic that we also talked about was power. It interests me how everyone just kind of assumes (and prays) that the power will continue to run because we know that if the power were to cut out, so many things would go wrong and would stop working. GridEx is a biennial situation that takes place to simulate a cyber attack (or physical) that wipes out the power. GridEx IV just took place on November 15-16, 2017. I wonder what type of information will come out of this year’s exercise.
I found this week’s topic quite interesting and hope to continue learning about our country’s cyber security as it develops.