A former FBI Special Agent and leading cyber-security expert offers a devastating and essential look at the misinformation campaigns, fake news, and electronic espionage operations that have become the cutting edge of modern warfare—and how we can protect ourselves and our country against them.
Clint Watts electrified the nation when he testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. In Messing with the Enemy, the cyber and homeland security expert introduces us to a frightening world in which terrorists and cyber criminals don’t hack your computer, they hack your mind. Watts reveals how these malefactors use your information and that of your friends and family to work for them through social media, which they use to map your social networks, scour your world affiliations, and master your fears and preferences.
Thanks to the schemes engineered by social media manipulators using you and your information, business executives have coughed up millions in fraudulent wire transfers, seemingly good kids have joined the Islamic State, and staunch anti-communist Reagan Republicans have cheered the Russian government’s hacking of a Democratic presidential candidate’s e-mails. Watts knows how they do it because he’s mirrored their methods to understand their intentions, combat their actions, and coopt their efforts.
Watts examines a particular social media platform—from Twitter to internet Forums to Facebook to LinkedIn—and a specific bad actor—from al Qaeda to the Islamic State to the Russian and Syrian governments—to illuminate exactly how social media tracking is used for nefarious purposes. He explains how he’s learned, through his successes and his failures, to engage with hackers, terrorists, and even the Russians—and how these interactions have generated methods of fighting back. Shocking, funny, and eye-opening, Messing with the Enemy is a deeply urgent guide for living safe and smart in a super-connected world.
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About the Author
Clint Watts is a Robert A. Fox Fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on the Middle East as well as a Senior Fellow at the Center For Cyber and Homeland Securityat The George Washington University.
Table of Contents
1 Omar and Carfizzi 1
2 The Rise and Fall of the Virtual Caliphate 21
3 "That Is Not an Option Unless It's in a Body Bag" 49
4 Rise of the Trolls 79
5 Harmony, Disharmony, and the Power of Secrets 101
6 Putin's Plan 129
7 Postmortem 155
8 Staring at the Men Who Stare at Goats 187
9 From Preference Bubbles to Social Inception: The Future of Influence 211
10 Surviving in a Social Media World 235
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent and incredibly informative read albeit frightening upon learning just how easy it is for terrorist organizations to get their message out and recruit young and enthusiastic fighters for their cause. Equally as easy is how a foreign power can influence our news cycles from a distance both directly via social media apps or through them to the news outlets (fringe “news” and MSM news) The book starts out outlining how (MENA) terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL, Al-Shabaab used the internet and social media to promote and grow their causes as well as communicate with one another - in some cases, in real time. It moves on to describe just how long the Soviets, then Russians, worked to infiltrate our society’s thinking to turn us against ourselves culminating in the exceptionally well-executed (and still ongoing) disinformation campaign that led us to our present electoral outcome stemming from the 2016 Presidential election. Interspersed throughout the modern history summaries are descriptions of the author’s studies by which he employed similar tactics to test the methods used to garner support or gather necessary (or desired) information to further his goals. (Word of advice - do your best to never be on the receiving end of a West Point Cadet’s prank!) It’s worrisome to know how little we’re doing, how little our government is doing, to prevent additional meddling and further erosion into our electoral process. Watts closes with some basic suggestions on how to protect ourselves - at least as individuals - from falling prey to disinformation campaigns. Wise words on how we can at least double check information prior to passing it on. The reader should take the lessons in this book as a sober reminder of just how important it it is to stay informed based on fact as opposed to mere popularity. Yes, it takes effort on our part, but our republic - and our collective sanity - are worth it. All the content was excellent and well-researched. There’s no doubt Watts knows his stuff. I look forward to reading more of his previously-written articles as well as future books he writes.
Do you think you know what is happening to civil society today? You will be surprise