Cybersecurity expert weighs in on potential online threats on Inauguration Day

Posted at 12:43 PM, Jan 20, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - From Washington, D.C. to the web, law enforcement is protecting Americans from all angles.

Ariel Pinto, an associate professor at Old Dominion University, has been studying cybersecurity for decades.

"The last time I could think that everyone was clamoring for a lot of information on a particular topic was right after 9/11," he said.

Pinto said the emboldened online chatter has a lot to do with social media. He points to platforms like Facebook, where people have been known to provoke each other and plan protests.

However, to ensure a smooth transfer of presidential power and avoid what happened on January 6th, which officials confirm was an organized attack on the Capitol, the FBI has been tracking online activity closely.

"These emotions, I believe, will run high on many individuals and that may serve as a vulnerability for us to be careless in the way we conduct ourselves in the cyberworld," Pinto said.

However, how one conducts themselves online can have consequences. One concern Pinto points out is when extremist groups or individual posts get banned from the big sites, they don't necessarily go away, they may just live on more obscure apps.

"It's like when we try to push one side of a balloon, it will bulge on another. And usually the shutting down of accounts or an entire social media platform is more overreacted to what has been posted by individual accounts or what's proliferating on entire social media platforms," Pinto said.

He said be careful what you post and be mindful of what you believe online.

"We know that the risk is higher than ever before, so if we can just hang on a little bit longer and be disciplined with how we conduct ourselves in the cyberworld, things will possibly go back to how we are used to knowing it - a bit later in the future."