Digital Stewardship: Navigating the Information Security Career Landscape Amid Rising Online Abuseby@vijaym123
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Digital Stewardship: Navigating the Information Security Career Landscape Amid Rising Online Abuse

by Vijay MurganoorApril 29th, 2024
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Embarking on an information security career offers diverse opportunities, from content moderation and incident response to engineering defense systems against online abuse. Learn about the impact of online abuse and discover valuable resources like machine learning books for cybersecurity professionals.
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Embarking on an information security career places you in a thriving industry where the demand for skilled professionals far exceeds supply. The growth of this sector is significant, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 32 percent increase in cybersecurity positions from 2022 to 2032, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter each face unique challenges related to online abuse, scams, and spam. YouTube struggles with spam and harassment in its comment sections, while Facebook grapples with sophisticated scams through fake profiles and pages. Twitter contends with bots that disseminate misinformation and phishing attacks. These issues highlight the urgent need for robust digital governance and the development of sophisticated tools to combat these threats and ensure user safety.

Types of Digitsl Abuse

  • Harassment: Online harassment encompasses a wide range of malicious behaviors aimed at individuals or groups. This can include cyberbullying, stalking, and the dissemination of personal information without consent (doxxing). Victims often experience significant emotional distress, and in severe cases, it can lead to real-world threats and violence.

  • Scams: The internet is rife with fraudulent schemes designed to deceive users and extract personal information or money. Phishing emails that mimic legitimate companies, romance scams on dating platforms, and fake investment opportunities on social media are just a few examples. These scams not only lead to financial loss but also erode trust in digital interactions.

  • Spam: Unsolicited messages, often in the form of emails or comments, clutter digital spaces and can serve as a vehicle for more malicious activities. Beyond mere annoyance, spam can contain harmful links leading to malware or phishing sites, posing significant security risks.

  • Misinformation: The spread of false or misleading information is a growing concern, with the potential to influence public opinion, incite panic, or sow discord. From fake news stories to manipulated images and videos, misinformation can rapidly circulate on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, making it challenging to discern truth from fiction.

  • Hate Speech and Extremism: Digital platforms can unfortunately serve as breeding grounds for hate speech and extremist ideologies. Encrypted messaging apps, forums, and social media can facilitate the organization and radicalization of individuals, contributing to societal divisions and, in extreme cases, acts of violence.

Impact of Online Abuse

  • Psychological Harm: Victims may suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
  • Social Repercussions: Abuse can lead to isolation, reputation damage, and broader personal and professional consequences.
  • Environmental Toxicity: Persistent abuse fosters a hostile online climate, deterring constructive engagement and curtailing free speech.

Career Paths in Fostering Online Safety

You can decide to take your career in a few different directions, depending on your interests and goals. If you enjoy planning and building, you may choose to pursue security engineering and architecture. Maybe you enjoy the thrill of incident response, or perhaps you’d prefer to hone your hacking skills to stay one step ahead of bad actors.




Content Moderators

Content moderators are the unsung heroes of the digital world, tasked with reviewing and moderating user-generated content to ensure it adheres to platform policies. Their work involves scrutinizing posts, comments, videos, and images, making quick decisions on whether content should be removed, flagged, or escalated for further review.

Content moderators play a critical role in shaping the user experience on digital platforms. Their efforts in removing harmful content contribute to safer online environments, fostering positive interactions and protecting users from abuse.

Incident Response Specialists

These specialists develop and enforce the policies that govern user behaviour on digital platforms. They work on the development of guidelines, user education initiatives, and the creation of systems for reporting and addressing abuse. Their role involves staying ahead of emerging threats and adapting policies to new forms of abuse.

By establishing clear guidelines and robust reporting mechanisms, Trust & Safety Specialists are instrumental in creating a framework that deters abuse and provides users with the tools to protect themselves and others. Their work directly influences the overall health and safety of online communities.

Engineering and architecture

You’ll use your knowledge of threats and vulnerabilities to build and implement defense systems against a range of security concerns. Engineers use machine learning and data analytics to identify patterns of abusive behaviour and content. They develop algorithms that can automatically detect potential abuse at scale, from spam and phishing to more subtle forms of harassment.

The tools and algorithms developed by Data Scientists are critical for scaling the efforts of content moderation and policy enforcement. By automating the detection of certain types of abuse, they allow platforms to respond more swiftly and effectively, reducing the spread of harmful content and protecting users.

Information Security Books

If you want to learn more about machine learning in cybersecurity, here are books that can help:

  • AI for Cybersecurity by Cylance(2017)- Short but good introduction to the basics of ML for Cybersecurity. Good practical examples.
  • Machine Learning and Security by O'Reilly (January 2018) — Best book so far about this topic but very few examples of Deep Learning and mostly a general Machine Learning
  • Machine Learning For Penetration Testers, by Packt (July 2018)- Less fundamental than the previous one, but has more Deep Learning approaches
  • Malware Data Science: Attack Detection and Attribution(Sept 2018) — As seen from the title, this book is focused on malware. It was just released at the time of writing this article so I can’t give any feedback so far. But I bet it is a must for everyone from endpoint protection teams.