Introducing the Cognitive Security Conference

Protego Press is excited to announce our involvement with the inaugural Cognitive Security (COGSEC) Conference, which will be taking place at The University of Texas at Austin on August 13-14, 2020 in collaboration with the Center for Media Engagement (CME)

The Cognitive Security Conference (COGSEC) will focus on a by-now familiar problem, the threat posed by online propaganda, media manipulation, and influence operations. But, with a twist: unlike many of the conferences, summits, and gatherings that have taken place on the topic since 2016, COGSEC is all about the real-world, hands-on practice of defending against these threats. 

Even as structural efforts to improve media literacy, understand the nature of disinformation, and draft new legal frameworks are underway, COGSEC will be a conference for those who need practical knowledge for defending communities and striking back at malign actors today. 

As Tim Hwang, Samuel C. Woolley and Alex Purcell write in their announcement of the conference:

The goal is to “bring together the motley collection of people we’ve seen working on these problems over the past decade: community organizers that have been targeted by campaigns of online harassment, weirdos who spend their free time figuring out how fake identities are launched on Facebook, computer security researchers interested in mega-scale social engineering, journalists rooting out private networks engaged in media manipulation, and many others.”

The idea is to share findings, teach the hard-earned lessons from being in the field, and to develop the norms of ethical security research on these topics. 

So, what does this look like in practice? What can you expect at COGSEC? Here’s some of the sessions that we’re looking to host:

* Investigations into ongoing media manipulation and influence campaigns, and case studies assessing the efficacy of launching particular countermeasures against them. 

* Workshops distilling specific and concrete skills in the disinformation defense space (detecting coordinated activity on social media, community organizing tactics, neutralizing bot swarms, media forensics, etc). 

* Demonstrations exposing new vulnerabilities in the media manipulation and online propaganda space, and discussions on addressing and patching these issues. 

* “Robo Rally”, a live competition focused on generating as many believable bot accounts on social media as possible in the shortest possible time.

The Call for Sessions is now open until May 4, 2020. Read more about it here.

And, please consider joining us in Austin in August. Passes are $100 for general public tickets, and $50 for student tickets. You can register here.

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