The web is full of misinformation. Some of it is poorly researched, others is deliberately misrepresented. This is not only annoying, but a real data risk. For the EU’s cybersecurity agency ENISA, it’s even one of the biggest.

Simply unbelievable – but is it true?

Especially on the Internet, there are many „sensational news“. They are intended to persuade readers to click on the news and the embedded advertising. But some reports are not „just“ exaggerated, they are simply wrong. This can happen with the media if they don’t do their research properly. But it can also be found in social networks, when someone has misunderstood something and then presents that as the truth. But not everything is an oversight or sloppiness. Many misrepresentations on the net are published with full intent. A distinction is made here between

  • Disinformation as the targeted dissemination of false information and
  • Misinformation that someone publishes without the intention to manipulate.

Disinformation now takes place across all channels

As the digital association Bitkom reports, consumers are noticing obviously false news or reports across all media. Nine out of ten social media users (92 percent) have noticed this on social networks. One in three (33 percent) was frequently confronted with deliberate misinformation. False news was observed somewhat less frequently in traditional media (79 percent of all consumers overall, 21 percent frequently). Via messengers such as WhatsApp or Telegram, every second messenger user (53 percent) received false information in the previous year. If someone publicly spreads false information about a person, the person’s privacy is affected. This is because personal data must also be correct. The principle of accuracy according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies. However, the recipient of the false information may also be exposed to data risks.

Misinformation is attacks or prepares attacks

In fact, the EU’s cybersecurity agency ENISA says disinformation is among the biggest risks, and misinformation can also cause harm. Disinformation and misinformation campaigns are of paramount importance in the cyber world, ENISA says. Cybercriminals often use disinformation and misinformation in hybrid attacks to create doubt or confusion. This leads recipients of the false messages to make mistakes and lack caution, for example, to install malicious software that is supposed to be helpful.

For good reason: Use other sources, remain critical

In the press, there is a good reason for the rule of never trusting just one source, i.e., checking every piece of information several times. At a time when anyone can become a „news source“ on social networks, this is especially true. And it applies to everyone who reads news and possibly then passes it on. Unfortunately, many don’t just fall for misinformation. They believe in it so much that they pass it on. As a result, the attack from the Net is spreading further and further. You should therefore remain critical!