Veterans are particularly valuable targets for various types of social engineering attacks, according to Mary K. Talbot at the Providence Journal. Veterans are often respected leaders in the community, and often function as influencers whose opinions carry a lot of weight. As a result, disinformation campaigns in often single them out to hijack their accounts or to impersonate them.
Talbot cites a hearing held last month by the House Veterans Affairs Committee addressing how veterans are targeted in social media. Vladimir Barash, science director at Graphika, said at the hearing that there’s no single solution to this problem.
“Attacks exploit societal cleavages in U.S. veterans and work to promote narratives that our American democracy is irrevocably broken,” Barash said. “Attacks against our troops in the cyber domain manifest as malware and phishing campaigns...the pairing of disinformation with cyberattacks demonstrates the sophistication of these operations, which aim to manipulate our veterans through multiple channels simultaneously and negate the utility of any single defense against their efforts.”
Barash added that disinformation operations are “precisely crafted...to influence the beliefs and narratives of influential members of key American communities.” Likewise, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher said during the hearing that “we recognize that individuals and groups that are considered trustworthy, like veterans, are more likely to be the targets of impersonation.”
Disinformation-focused attacks are just one type of threat faced by veterans. Romance scams exploiting the identity of veterans are also an extremely common occurrence. People often forget that there are two victims of a romance scam: the person who’s targeted and the person who’s impersonated. There are numerous cases in which someone targeted by a romance scam gets in contact with the real person whose photos were used by the scammer. These interactions can cause a great deal of emotional distress for both parties.
Organizations that hire veterans need to be aware that these people are high-priority targets, and they deserve training proportionate to the level of risk they face. New-school security awareness training can provide your employees with essential knowledge tailored to address the threat landscape. The Providence Journal has the story: https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20191222/veterans-voice-veterans-are-especially-vulnerable-online