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Cybersecurity In-Depth

The Edge

How Can I Help My Users Spot Disinformation?

A combination of clever tools, good education, and better mindfulness might keep users from being manipulated.

Question: How can I help my users spot disinformation online?

Sam Small, CSO, ZeroFox: Education is the key to helping users effectively and consistently spot disinformation online. Include the topic in your security awareness and training curriculum. Explain its purpose and value, share and dissect the anatomy of its familiar forms and indicators, and discuss practical techniques your users can employ to validate or repudiate questionable information on their own. Then test your users' abilities to discern between authentic and fake content by presenting them with real examples of both (or alternatively, create your own).

Consider introducing your users to some of the many tools, apps, browser extensions, and community forums created to help people research and verify information online. Find an extensive list of tools that fight disinformation online, fact-checking tools, and resources curated by the RAND Corporation's Countering Truth Decay Initiative.

Want to go deeper? Encourage your users to practice a skill long celebrated by psychologists, Buddhists, and new-age yogis alike: mindfulness. Disinformation is designed to elicit a strong emotional response. The users most skilled in recognizing it are those with an acute awareness of their emotions and an ability to recognize attempts to manipulate them in real-time. Even so, separating fact from fiction is often difficult without additional context or information.

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