Editorials: Ireland was ahead of the curve on hacking | Kathy Sheridan/The Irish Times

Opinion writers stand accused of undue negativity, so make way for a few heart-lifting positives. Well-thumbed physical election registers. Paper ballots. Stubby pencils. Interminable counts surveyed by gimlet-eyed tallymen and women. That’s our fabulously antiquated voting system and it stands up well. Last week, by contrast, Americans learned that the electronic voting systems of 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016 and some had been “actually successfully penetrated”, in the words of the US head of cybersecurity. The targeting may have been exploratory probes for system vulnerabilities to be exploited later, say experts, pointing to the crumbling US digital voting apparatus. In other words, the 2016 hackers could look like plankton compared with the shark attacks expected around the forthcoming mid-term elections, with their potential to rebalance power in America.

Or not. Have the magpie media once again fallen headlong for the shiny clickbait – a hacking conspiracy thriller – and, as some suggest, taken their eye off the more significant story of the 2016 election campaign? That is, the triumph of propaganda – ie biased or misleading information – by social media advertisements, trolls and bots.

We know now that online giants such as Facebook and Twitter enabled Russian operatives to inflame the polarisation of American society. Twitter has provided a list to a US Senate committee with the user names of nearly 37,000 Russian-linked bots that tweeted a total of 1.4 million times. If that sounds tame, consider this : those 1.4 million tweets were viewed 288 million times.

Full Article: Kathy Sheridan: Ireland was ahead of the curve on hacking.

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