Collective Attention Threats: How to Respond

A research team from Texas A&M has come up with a plan for how to address so-called collective attention threats before the attacks even start. Read on to see how these threats are crafted and how to respond.

Michael Kassner writes, “Dr. James Caverlee, an associate professor in the department of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M University, has a dream. He wants to create an internet world where cybercriminals can no longer rely on collective attention threats to lure people into becoming victims of digital crime.

“So what is collective attention? It is a recent phenomenon when, for whatever reason—breaking news, a video, or possibly a tweet posted on a large-scale social media system like YouTube or Twitter—captures the attention of thousands if not millions of internet denizens. A possible explanation as to why this happens is that we humans, thanks to our social and cognitive makeup, are more likely to trust information gleaned from our social circles than from mainstream venues, and online social-media outlets are now becoming our social circles.

“This digital ‘perfect storm’ is not lost on cybercriminals, who craft online threats—phishing e-mails and/or malicious websites—related to viral (aka collective attention) social media events to phish unsuspecting victims whose only mistake is being interested in a trending piece of internet news, video, or tweet.”

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