Social Media can be defined as any web or mobile based platform that enables an individual or agency to communicate interactively and enables exchange of user generated content and it is explained by a number of tools, which includes blogs, Wikis, discussion forums, micro-blogs, twitter and social networking sites.
Social Media in recent times has become synonymous with Social Networking sites such as Facebook or Micro Blogging sites such as Twitter.
The advantages of Social media are so many but they are posing threat to Internal Security in various forms like Cyber Terrorism, Fraud, crime, spreading violence, etc.
• According to the Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report, the highest concentration of online security threats are on mass audience sites, including social media.
• The rapid spread of false information through social media is among the emerging risks identified by the World Economic Forum in its Global Risks 2013 Report.
National Security is of prime importance for any nation to maintain peace and harmony. Nations face numerous internal security challenges and Social Media act as the platform for that. Social media is not security threat in itself but the users of these services can pose the threats by their anti-social endeavours.
With limited government oversight, industry standards or incentives to educate users on security, privacy and identity protection, users are exposed to identity theft and fraud. Additionally, these platforms have huge confidential user information, and are likely vulnerable to outside or inside attack which is detrimental to Internal Security.
Different Internal Security threats due to Social Media are:
1) Cyber Terrorism:
The biggest challenge for internal security of nation through social networking site is cyber terrorism.
Today terrorists select Social Media as a practical alternative to disturb the function of nations and other business activities because this technique has potential to cause huge damage. It poses enormous threat in international system and attracts the mass media, the security community, and the information technology corporation.
At the same time, due to the convenience, affordability and broad reach of social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, terrorist groups have increasingly used social media to further their goals and spread their message.
Social Media became a platform for coordination of plans of attack, communication with cells, or propaganda and information and spread of hate campaign or messages that can hurt the sentiments of people.
These groups now have their own websites where they can convey their propaganda and, for most of them, they advise their readers and followers not to trust the media which are seen as the enemy.
The chat service like Skype, which includes voice and video capabilities, has become particularly popular with terrorist cells. Chat rooms and electronic forums enable the insurgent and extremists groups to communicate with members and supporters all over the world, to recruit new followers and to share information at little risk of identification by authorities.
Youths are especially targeted for propaganda, incitement and recruitment purposes by terrorist groups.
Social networking sites also invite fraudsters to take excellent opportunity to become wealthy by applying deceiver schemes.
3) Criminal Activity and Money laundering:
Internet Media is a major resource for developing serious crime. As Internet is growing explosively, online criminals try to present fraudulent plans in many ways. Social networking sites also pose major challenge in financial and organized crime which destabilizes the system. It creates threat to a company's security because of what employees might disclose and they are on prime target for cyber criminals.
4) International users:
The other national and international users such as the political parties, NGO's, hackers pose a serious threat using the social media. For example, during the civil turmoil in the Arab Spring Uprising, the various governments were threatened through the social media.
5) To Bring Revolution:
Some countries in the world feel threatened by the fact that social media can bring the people together and thus, create a revolution. This in turn can cause political instability
6) Communal Violence and Fanning Tensions:
Importantly, social media also seems to be playing a significant role in polarising different communities in India and compounding India's Security challenges. The viral videos and false updates of communal clashes, riots and terrorists attack have created a massive impact in the life of public.
The power of media and the process of public opinion formation in a free society had undergone radical change due to Internet and faster means of communications like SMS, whats app, viber and simplified mobile internet. The chain of events beginning with the clashes in our North-east and which caused very serious and mass exodus of North-east population from several Indian cities has revealed the fragility of our national Cohesion.
7) Virtual Community:
Popular social networking websites are another means of attracting potential members and followers. These types of virtual communities are growing increasingly popular all over the world, especially among younger demographics. This can build Anti-national Sentiments among Society.
Hackers write or use ready-made computer programs to attack the target computer. By using Social Media hackers breach the national security and steal important data of defence or other strategic sectors. This can kneel the whole country without using Arms and Ammunition.
Although social media has the potential to be a threat to national security, it also has the opportunity to strengthen National Security and to be used to benefit the Government.
One of the fastest growing ways that Governments are using social media is as a warning or trend prevention tool. As a monitoring tool, the government is able to recognize the first signs of any hostile or potentially dangerous activity by collecting and analyzing messages in order to try to predict events that could be a danger to National Security.
Another important use of social media by the government is as an institutional Communication Tool. Social Media provides a medium that creates cohesion between federal agencies by increasing both communication and transparency.
Surveillance Projects in India
e-Surveillance Projects: National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Internet Spy System Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIPC) of India, National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) of India, Tri Service Cyber Command for Armed Forces of India, Cyber Attacks Crisis Management Plan Of India.
Challenges in Monitoring Social Media
1) Server Location and Laws of Different Countries: Lack of Geographical Boundaries makes social media regulation an arduous task. Major Complicating Factors to secure the networks and Media Much of the hardware and software that make up the communications ecosystem is sourced externally.
2) Encrypted Message: Use of phones/whatsapp to send and receive messages, concerns the government because the communications sent via such devices and applications are encrypted and could not be monitored and consequently hinders the country's efforts to fight terrorism and crime.
3) Complicated Networks: The task of securing the networks is also complicated by the fact that much of the infrastructure is in the hands of private companies who see measures such as security auditing and other regulations and frameworks as adding to their costs. Source of Origin is difficult to find out.
In a globalised society media becomes a lethal weapon against the enemy, and the populace as well. Information, as an element of soft power, is a strategic instrument within the context of grand strategy. There should be judicious use of social media. But we will have to mull steps to check its misuse for creating Internal security threat to Nation. Social Media, with all its benefits and the potential for more, is definitely a boon to our world, however misuse or irresponsible usage can have negative affectson an Internal security. We need to guard against the negative impact of the social media, which ought to be used in the correct manner for creative or productive purposes so that it is progressive to mankind and society at large, rather than regressive.