Data Journalism

Cognitive Hacking An Invisible Parasite



Cognitive Hacking An Invisible Parasite, Hardly no one will be unaware of the term “hacking”, while using the internet in this era of social networking. Everyday, we hear people are complaining about their accounts are been hacked or they are under threats of such attacks. Most often the hackers try to reach and get control of a person or company bank accounts, social media accounts to achieve their targets aimed financial gains or other malicious ambitions. There are other trends of phishing and scamming, the prior is act of sending emails disguising one’s self as member of a reputed company, while the latter is fraudulent business deal either in physical or through online platforms. The basic difference between hacking and the phishing/scamming is the nature of the incidents.

Where in first case “Cognitive Hacking An Invisible Parasite” one is totally unaware of who is attacking his/her accounts. While in the other case there is two-way communication between the perpetrator and the victims. However, in both the of cases the victims have no knowledge of the intentions of the attackers. Hacking itself is not that much notorious as considered most of internet users these days.

There are two types of hackings, one is known as ethical hacking that’s is used to secure the assets and system of IT firms and other organizations, where proper permissions are granted to the IT experts to apply hacking skills aimed to further strengthen the security of the firms and organizations. While the other malicious hacking where the perpetrators do attacks with malevolent means to get access to the accounts of internet consumers without their due permission.

However, the risk factors of the above mentioned means of data thefts are not much that dangerous as of the cognitive hacking, the practice that is trending very fast in the digitalized world of information spread. Whereas, every single news is spread in the blink of eyes without any confirmation whether its authentic or fake. “Cognitive hacking” is a cyber-attack where peril actors manipulate victims’ perceptions by appealing their psychological weaknesses and making them addicted toward designed manifesto of perpetration. To perform their actions the perpetrator or group of perpetrators applicate disinformation to catch readers and attract audiences thorough showcasing wrong information in text writing, alluring audio podcasts and thrilling and thundering video broadcasts.

Cognitive hacking causes riots, protests and creating challenges for the individuals, companies as well create headache for the state’s authorities. The era of information blasts and social media usage bulge are the key elements that gave birth to the alarming trend of cognitive hacking.

According to Finance Online report Nov,2022 there is more than half (50.64%) of the global population now uses social media and, out of 4.57 billion internet users, 83.36% are active users. Such an excessive social media users have created challenges for the professional journalists, where they have been facing problems to bring at once truth-based news while following the canvas of ethics of journalism.

The digital gadgets i.e., smartphones, tablets, camera enabled smart watches and other portable devises are being used widely, where a million worth information is uploaded in a disinformed manner aimed getting popularity or fame to attract other social media users to like, share or subscribe one’s profile. Which on another side caused a postmortem of a genuine information. Most of the social media platforms i.e., Meta (Facebook). twitter, LinkedIn, Insta gram etc. use an algorithm setting that bring the news items, videos, photos and audios that have once watched by the social media consumer. The algorithm aligns similar trending materials which are out of the intentions of the consumers, where their perceptions are on risks of cognitive hacking. These male-informed and disinformed news are being shared by a social media consumer with his/her family, friends and others who are connected with him/her on social media platforms.

As a result, when there real and accurate news have to come the fake news had already worked out on the cognitions of the social media users causing chaos in society. Now the world is considered as global village, not only the underdeveloped and developing countries are facing such challenges of cognitive hacking, the developed countries i.e., United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China etc. are also under black shadow of cognitive hacking.

The storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 can be considered as one of the incidents of cognitive hacking in the United States, where the motives of storming was to pressurize the congress not to recognize the victory of the current U.S president Joe’Biden by blaming him an enemy by mob supporters of Donald Trump, through social media campaigns, sharing images of riot control police through projection and textures as violent offenders of human rights and U.S laws. Such cognitive hacking has also been used in Russia Ukraine war, where the states of both of the countries, including their   allies, social media users are implicating fake news, disinformation and using as a tool to attract the world support in their favors.

The scenario of cognitive hacking is also been utilized in India, Pakistan and rest of the developing countries in the world.  in November 2022 an online digital website NapoleanCat reveals that There are 46 451 900 active Facebook users in Pakistan, which accounts 21% of its entire population. The majority of them are men – 77.2%. People aged 18 to 24 were the largest user group (17 100 000). The highest difference between men and women occurs within people of aged 25 to 34, where men lead by 12 700 000.It is not clear whether each person has a single social media account on a particular platform or having multiple accounts. On April 1,2019 AFP reported that Facebook removed 103 pages, groups and accounts linked with Pakistan’s Military. Similarly, On June 4,2021 Facebook revealed that there are 6.5m fake accounts on its platform, out of which 40 Facebook accounts, 25 Pages, six Groups and 28 Instagram accounts were run from Pakistan, which were involved in spreading disinformation.

Most of these accounts were pretending as representatives of Pakistan Army. The cyber war of fake news and disinformation has no territorial limits and its being used everywhere and each field in contrast that was only limited to the field of media industry. However, Cognitive hacking is one of the most powerful psychological tools and Cognitive Hacking An Invisible Parasite that is being with various projected targets by the its perpetrators.

To counter these challenges organizations working to secure the ethics of professional journalism are continuously working to train professional journalists to overcome these challenges of misinformation, disinformation and male-information. There is dire need to combat this menace by devising effective policies by states to discourage the trends of fake news, disinformation and cognitive hacking.

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