PR pulse: Cybersecurity experts say fake news influenced U.S. elections

by | Aug 21, 2017 | Public Relations

More than 4 in 5 cybersecurity experts (82 percent) feel confident that the U.S. political landscape has been exploited by fake news, according to new research from domain name and DNS-based cyber threat intelligence firm DomainTools, which recently released the results of its Black Hat Survey, conducted at the recent information security event Black Hat USA 2017.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of the respondents believe that nothing can prevent fake news from being created but a collaborative effort of proper education (73 percent), social media filters (46 percent), and blacklisted websites (29 percent) provide hope for preventing the influence of misinformation.

Contrasting with results from a survey of U.K. security pros, only half of U.S. security experts believe they have been influenced by fake news themselves.

“What I find most intriguing about these results is that despite an overwhelming sentiment that fake news is unstoppable, half of the respondents seem to feel immune to exposure,” said DomainTools’ senior security researcher and Black Hat review board member Kyle Wilhoit, in a news release. “One thing I can agree with, the war of misinformation and fake news will continue to be successful until we have a solution that fully utilizes a combination of widespread education and technology.”

Cybersecurity experts say fake news influenced U.S. elections

In addition to the state of fake news, the survey exposed the critical infrastructure most susceptible to a cyberattack in the eyes of cyber experts. According to the official 2017 Black Hat Attendee Survey, 66 percent of event attendees anticipate a successful cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure within the next two years. Drilling deeper, the DomainTools survey shows that electricity generation systems, such as power grids and nuclear power plants, and telecommunication systems, such as cell towers and satellites, are the most at-risk critical asset systems, putting enterprises and the U.S. economy at risk. Inadequate security architecture is the largest factor (63 percent) driving cybersecurity attacks against the U.S., although many (46 percent) believe the U.S. is an attractive target because it has the most to lose.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Eighty percent believe security teams are accountable to keep the enterprise secure, although the board and executives share in the responsibility.
  • Twenty-one percent believe the government should intervene and shut down fake news websites.
  • Thirty-nine percent believe that cyberwar is the current state of warfare.

The DomainTools Black Hat Survey was conducted live at Black Hat USA2017 with C-level executives, directors, managers, researchers, and analysts equally distributed between small and large companies. Survey data is available by request.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter