Cyberwar PsyOps: Speak to Tweet
scmagazine.com | Feb 1st 2011
As written about in many places, the cyberwarfare psychological operations social media tools effectively brought about the Egyptian government’s decision to completely sever their country from the internet.
Reporting news via Twitter was temporarily out of business. Protest organizers who have chosen social media to vent their complaints, as well as legitimate news outlets who reported news in real time, were temporarily thwarted.
With the next communication medium being the cellular phone without text messaging, only voice calls could leave the country. Imagine a world without Skype’s low-cost communication, and apparently no ability to text message (unconfirmed, working on this fact). With a voice-to-text application plugged into Twitter, the internet disconnection could be worked around.
Now, apparently Google has an app for that:
We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No internet connection is required.
People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.
Cellular phones and protests
Last week I wrote about cellular infrastructure becoming the next target of repressive governments.
The old-school mobile phone is now the instrument of real-time sitreps. Will cellular network technology be the next risk for state-sanctioned cyberwarfare?
As Dancho Danchev reported recently, the first botnet consisting of cellular devices has now been tested.
And now, with this voice to Tweet app, there is a market for cellular DDoS or bricking cell phones. How long will it take for the RoShamBo to bring about cellular device disruption and DDoS? The dark market will be the determining factor. The tactics of DDoS’ing phone lines may begin whenever someone decides to hire the underground programmers to develop malware for that purpose.
Why I really like this: Kill switch bill balance of power
For those concerned with the Lieberman-Collins legislation, also known as the Kill Switch Bill, this Twitter workaround should be seen as a good thing. After all, with a majority of communication being Voice over IP (VOIP) and other internet-related backbone technologies, having an out-of-band solution to back up corporate and private communications is never a bad idea.
Kudos to Google and Twitter for providing this interface, something wireless engineers have been discussing for nearly 12 years (in my beer-and-wings social network, that is). The more solutions like this which come out of the current situations, the better off everyone is, and monetizing this is not hard to imagine. Win-win.
This will enable thousands of people to effectively report factual events. However, keep in mind that Twitter can be used by propagandists on both sides. Just like any other media resource, keeping truth in the game is a full-time occupation for observers, regardless of how that news gets to them.