Digital Militias

by Limbic on October 1, 2014

The term digital militias is usually used to refer to online social media fighters, often paid, who agitate on behalf of their chosen cause.

Every conflict has cadres representing both sides who slug it out in forums, on twitter and Facebook .

I have another idea about digital militias. It stems from my observation that ordinary end-users do not stand much of a chance against contemporary online threat actors.

There are so many attack vectors, so many software vulnerabilities, such well resourced criminals with cleverly designed social engineering campaigns. The ordinary tech unsavy user is wide open to compromise, exploitation,  blackmail, data and identity theft.

What I see happening us that they  tend to seek out a lord of their technical domain. Someone to help and protect them. Someone to troubleshoot, clean up viruses and advise on technical matters.

Like so many professional and journeyman technologists, I find myself in this role. I am responsible for a host of computer, tablets and phones belonging to family, friends and neighbours. It goes beyond helping elderly parents with technical support. I host their websites on my server. I harden and maintain their computers and devices. I clean up the mess when they nailed by bad guys. They call me when they have a suspect a link, or need help when stumped by a technical problem.

Of course I do this all completely for free. It is a pleasure to help friends and family in this way. I almost see it as a duty. In a sense I am a one man digital militia protecting and fighting back where law enforcement is completely absent. I have often wondered where this might end up. Maybe people will start to pool resources to defend themselves online. Entire neighbourhoods who have a pooled network with a firewall and paid system administrator patrolling the virtual wall.

We’ll see. maybe the wild west days of the internet are over. The bad guys have had such an advantage for so long, one imagines there must be a corrective due. Until them, the vulnerable will huddle under the protection of the (relatively) strong but as dozens of hacked celebrities embarrassingly discovered, no one is safe.

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