Intro to Cognitive Security

I dont like cyberpunks anymore

"Opsec" is a phrase thats uttered so much that its starting to get on my fucking nerves. On one hand its used by those who are currently engaged in a military operation, or any act of that nature. On the other hand, its used by people who shitpost all day and like to think they are doing anything of consequence. I won't deny that "opsec"(which in the way most armchair insurrectos use it should actually be called persec) is something that is important to know. Its emphasized by alot of anarchists, since they like to think that a shit ton of people are engaged in some real cool black flag shit. I personally, have not seen this to be the case. What I find to be far more common, is that anything that would actually require opsec is gimped by clever campaigns by authority. Opsec is important. But what is far more pressing is cognitive security.

Cognitive security is a depressingly underdeveloped "field". It's sparse and typically involves the discussion of defense, using the metaphor of a computer to represent the human mind. All of which is to say that its capable of being hacked and secured. Its very gross that people relate more to their minds as computers than as a part of themselves, but that's not to take away from the fact that this reductionist metaphor actually has alot of utility. The efforts of tech giants and nation-states are indeed seemingly geared at "hacking" the human brain, usually in the direction of submission and production. Cogsec's value really started to become relevant after the intentions of social networks became aware. My definition of cognitive security is the craft of protecting the mind's anti-authoritarian thought patterns.

Any good capitalist knows that you dont treat a person as human, you treat them as worker. Humans are strong, freedom oriented, suspicious and dynamic things. Workers on the other hand, get that fucking bread. The very word in fact is the first lesson in the importance of cogsec. Your brain is rewritten to be centered around your social role. When you identify as a worker, an employee or a wagie; you identify with submission itself. The effect of thinking this and saying this to yourself constantly should not be overlooked. The manager in your head becomes larger than it actually is. Often, this illusion is used to assure compliance without the use of actual force. Good cogsec is knowing this to prevent its effect. Sometimes it helps to remind yourself that you are a human rather than organic machine.

Examples of these attacks on cognitive security are everywhere in the workplace. Companies often hijack the tribalistic tendencies of humans in order to foster company culture. On job applications you are not referred to as a "food service worker" even though, to the company, that is literally what you are. "Team member" is a term that has become nearly universally adopted and with good reason. It ties your fellow employees to the idea of the company. This is an exceptionally clever breach in cogsec. If you do anything to harm the "company" you are to believe your harming your team; thus creating a highly effective measure against anyone planning any trouble. In some cases, its even more effective than normal punishment. The switch to a more "human-centered" workplace doesn't stop here. There's been a clear shift in what's seen as a "good value" in a "worker". While days long past have asked workers to show their merit and skills, something that is increasingly more valued is compliance. Key words in job ads like "team player", "friendly", and "people oriented"; are all codewords for "not willing to mess up the damn money". A worker who is inept but compliant is far more useful than one who is a aware and skilled. The higher education system, which was once a way to higher wages, works to this end as well. Rather than giving the student the skills needed for the job, degrees are used as tests of one's dedication to the system. Those who graduate are finding that its far less important what degree you have and more so that you have it.

Cogsec breaches are not only limited to working. Some of the largest breaches of cogsec happen in times of alleged "leisure". All sorts of media is designed to compromise cogsec. Most conflict presented in stories only permit state-sanctioned solutions and even if they do show radical ideas, it acts only to create the illusion of "freedom of art". Media that explores revolutionary themes, besides being garbage, does not have the goal of subversion. More often, such themes are used to make the media have higher stakes and thus increase its compelling nature. People who engage with such media, channel their anti-authoritarian tendencies into social peformance and normal behavior in the system of politics. All of which keep King Abacus both content and counting.

Technology as of recently has become one of the strongest adversaries to cogsec. With it being the backbone of our communication systems, any changes made to its structure can be used to shape human behavior towards submission. Most modern social networks are geared to amassing mass userbases hostage to advertisments. Social networks are often perceived as great forums of human interaction, whose costs are merely maintained by benevolent, but needed, ads. But in reality you provide the services to the companies through your purchases and your data. Twitter, facebook, snapchat, instagram are all examples of this. This is a big issue because any subversion to capitalims will not occur on facebook. But how can cogsec be used exactly

Cognitive Security in practice

Here's an example of my cogsec practices applied in a made up scenario.

i. Threat Identification

After years of running a #resist facebook group, you find that the software seems to run completely against your goals. Facebook isn't privacy oriented, attacks your "comrades" with ads and data theft and is run by Data from Star trek. You're not sure what all this means but you know that you cant host your group on facebook anymore. You decide to do some research to find the extent of the threat. You learn that facebook's software steals your information to curate your timeline to their end and sells your data to 3rd party companies. You decide any platform you switch to needs to avoid this.

ii. Re-securing

You explore many alternatives, based on the information you make a list of your needs so that you can better find this new platform. You decide you want it to respect the user's privacy, not be run by any large company and have no ads whatsoever. After creating this list, you are able to easily find a solution. You discover a program called "tox" which allows for more anonymous connections, has no ads and respects the privacy of you and your friends. Your cogsec is now in better shape after finding a program that doesn't attack you mentally all of the fucking time.

iii. Routine Cogsec checks

You stay updated on the developers of tox as well as enlist a friend to keep an eye on the code. If they ever want to inject any ads or change the way information is processed based on their own nefarious desires, you want to know as soon as possible so you can act against this.

Closing Thoughts

Its not my desire to give the magic sauce on cogsec or tell humans how "do it", I only wish to create discussion and practices that help defend against these mental attacks that are becoming more and more present. Cogsec threats are everywhere as authority is also. But with the right practices and a healthy suspicion of authoritarian structures, damage can be minimized and authority can be kept on its toes. Its important to remember the danger is always there as long as leviathan can benefit off hijacking your thoughts.