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jerryking : destabilization   13

Why is America so bad at information wars?
JULY 18, 2018 | Financial Times | Gillian Tett.

In his new book Messing With the Enemy, Clint Watts, a former FBI agent, describes this exchange as the first “international-terrorist-versus-counter-terrorist Twitter battle”......One way to make sense of today’s extraordinary cyber battles with the Russians is to look at how jihadi groups developed such campaigns years earlier — not least because this oft-ignored parallel shows how the US government has done a poor job fighting its enemies in cyberspace. “America sucks at information warfare,” Watts laments. “Absolutely sucks.”.....US officials attempted to fight back against Isis’s social media campaigns. Watts reveals that in 2013 while at the FBI — and later as a security consultant — he engaged in a long Twitter duel with American-born terrorist Omar Hammami. Other US intelligence groups tried to develop psychological-operations campaigns to fight the extremists. Some of the experimental techniques used to profile social media users were later deployed in the ad-tech industry by companies such as Cambridge Analytica.

However, the US military was simply too bureaucratic, slow moving and rule-laden to match its enemies. And the country that seemed to learn the most from the social media extremists was Russia: Watts describes how he inadvertently witnessed Russian-backed groups populating American social media from the autumn of 2015 onwards, copying some of the tactics of the Islamists....Watts’s proposed remedy is just as startling: he believes that US government agencies are now so ill-equipped to fight in these type of social media wars that it is time for non-government groups to take the lead instead.....many leading figures in Silicon Valley furtively express similar views. Indeed, some appear to be quietly funding civilian “volunteers” to do exactly what Watts suggests: namely, hunt for ways to counter Russian attacks by infiltrating enemy cyber groups.

Who knows whether this type of grass-roots action will work, or how widespread it might be — everything is deeply murky in the arena of cyberspace and information wars.
Gillian_Tett  information_warfare  U.S.  security_&_intelligence  Twitter  al-Shabab  books  cyber_warfare  Russians  hackers  Russia  disinformation  persuasion  trolls  politics  delegitimization  destabilization  deception  infiltration 
july 2018 by jerryking
Chaos has its limits even in Donald Trump’s White House
March 23, 2018 | FT | Tim Harford.

The disadvantage of chaos is that it is destabilising; the advantage is that it may destabilise your foes more than you. About four decades ago the US military strategist John Boyd gave a series of influential talks about this idea.

Boyd, whose admirers included senior Republican Dick Cheney and management guru Tom Peters, argued for rapid, confusing manoeuvres, improvised if need be, with the aim of disorienting the enemy. Create enough chaos and you could completely paralyse your foe. If the chaos made life uncomfortable for your own side, no matter. Synchronisation, said Boyd, was not for organisations, but for watches.

This messy, improvised approach to tactics is not entirely new. Sun Tzu, the near-mythical author of The Art of War, declared that “quickness is the essence of war”, but also advised being “without ascertainable shape”. This sounds like the incessant, incomprehensible activity of the Trump White House.....On the battlefield, the master of messy improvisation was the German general Erwin Rommel. He championed swift, energetic action, even if it left his own men scrambling to figure out what was happening.....The same fast-paced seizing of opportunities has worked for some businesses. In the early years of Amazon, Jeff Bezos was clear that he needed to get ahead of rivals such as Barnes & Noble and Toys R Us, even if it meant chaos within Amazon. A more methodical start-up would have been caught and crushed....Of course the more ponderous forces of planning and organisation may reassert themselves in the end....Facebook’s old mantra, “move fast and break things”, suddenly looks less clever. Mark Zuckerberg must now explain exactly what he has broken.....there are limits to improvisation, ambiguity and self-contradictions....On a playing field criss-crossed by technical and legal details, EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s ploddingly careful preparation now seems to be paying dividends.
blitzkrieg  chaos  destabilization  fast-paced  improvisation  leadership  messiness  speed  Sun_Tzu  Tim_Harford  Tom_Peters 
march 2018 by jerryking
How Vladimir Putin mastered the cyber disinformation war
February 18, 2018 | FT | by Andrei Soldatov.

outsourcing cyber disinformation campaigns has become a tactic used by Russia to create plausible deniability and lower the costs and risks of controversial overseas operations. Today, Kremlin-backed cyber campaigns have an unorthodox chain of command. It is one in which non-state actors — primarily businessmen with personal ties to important figures in the Kremlin — call the shots, not, as in western cyber operations, the electronic and signals intelligence gathering wings of the army and government agencies.
Vladimir_Putin  Robert_Mueller  indictments  Russia  disinformation  persuasion  trolls  politics  delegitimization  destabilization  deception  cyber_warfare  information_warfare  Kremlin 
february 2018 by jerryking
Trump, Niger and Connecting the Dots
OCT. 31, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

It is easy to ignore the recent story of four U.S. servicemen killed in Niger, the giant state in central Africa, because the place is so remote and the circumstances still so murky. That would be a mistake. Niger highlights a much larger problem — just how foolish, how flat-out dumb President Trump is behaving.

Trump is a person who doesn’t connect dots — even when they’re big, fat polka dots that are hard to miss. ..... To understand why groups affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda are popping up in that region of central Africa, you have to connect a lot of dots, and recognize the linkages between a number of different problems....As defense systems expert Lin Wells once put it: To ameliorate problems in places like Niger, you must never think in the box. You must never think out of the box. “You must always think without a box.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linton_Wells_II]

Why? Because what is destabilizing all of these countries in the Sahel region of Africa and spawning terrorist groups is a cocktail of climate change, desertification — as the Sahara steadily creeps south — population explosions and misgovernance.....Desertification is the trigger, and climate change and population explosions are the amplifiers. The result is a widening collapse of small-scale farming, the foundation of societies all over Africa. And that collapse is leading to a rising tide of “economic migrants, interethnic conflicts and extremism,”......Trump’s response to this reality? It’s to focus solely on using the U.S. military to kill terrorists in Africa while offering a budget that eliminates U.S. support for global contraception programs; appointing climate-change deniers to all key environmental posts; pushing coal over clean energy; and curbing U.S. government climate research.

In short, he’s sending soldiers to fight a problem that is clearly being exacerbated by climate and population trends, while eliminating all our tools to mitigate these trends.
That’s just stupid, reckless and irresponsible — and it evinces no ability to connect the dots or think without a box......Nothing Trump ever says has a second paragraph. His whole shtick is just a first paragraph: Build a wall, tear up the Iran deal, tear up TPP, defeat ISIS, send troops to Niger and Afghanistan to kill terrorists, kill climate policy, kill family planning, cut taxes, raise military spending. Every box just marks an applause line he needed somewhere to get elected. Nothing connects — and we will pay for that.
Donald_Trump  Niger  ISIS  climate_change  Tom_Friedman  Africa  connecting_the_dots  the_Sahara  terrorism  the_Sahel  misgovernance  desertification  sub-Saharan_Africa  weak_states  failed_states  farming  population_growth  U.S._military  mismanagement  destabilization 
november 2017 by jerryking
Putin Sees a Happy New Year - The New York Times
By MICHAEL KHODARKOVSKYDEC. 26, 2016

Today, Mr. Putin focuses the shrinking resources of a beleaguered Russian economy on the twin agendas of restoring Russia’s position among the world’s powers and undermining Western institutions. For him it is a zero sum game. Moscow can easily deploy thousands of hackers and trolls to achieve maximum disruption while Western democracies awaken too slowly to the dangers. And the dangers are grave. From state-sponsored mass doping in sports to corrosive business practices, from silencing political dissent at home to supporting brutal regimes abroad, Russia’s policies are rooted in deceit, graft and violence — a combination that presents an existential challenge to democracies.....This is not routine cyber intelligence, which many nations practice. Russia’s cyber activity seeks to confuse, destabilize and ultimately bring to power foreign governments pliant to Russia’s aims. That is an attack on the values and institutions of democratic societies, and, if successful, it achieves the same result as a military invasion to install a new government.
Russia  Vladimir_Putin  cyber_warfare  disinformation  destabilization  security_&_intelligence  propaganda  deception  zero-sum_games  offensive_tactics 
december 2016 by jerryking
Putin Is Waging Information Warfare. Here’s How to Fight Back. - The New York Times
By MARK GALEOTTIDEC. 14, 2016

the United States and its allies should pursue a strategy of deterrence by denial. Mr. Putin shouldn’t fear retaliation for his information warfare — he should fear that he will fail.

There are several ways to go about this. First, United States institutions need better cybersecurity defenses. Political parties and major newspapers are now targets just as much as the power grid and the Pentagon are. The government has to help provide security when it can — but people have a duty to be more vigilant and recognize that their cybersecurity is about protecting the country, not just their own email accounts. ....Finally, Mr. Putin’s own vanity could be turned into a weapon against him. Every time he overreaches, the American government should point it out. Every time he fails, we need to say so loudly and clearly. We should tell jokes about him. He can rewrite the record in Russia, but the West does not have to contribute to his mythmaking — and we should stop building him up by portraying him as a virtual supervillain.
cyberattacks  Vladimir_Putin  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  retaliation  security_&_intelligence  punitive  phishing  deterrence  economic_warfare  blacklists  retribution  disinformation  campaigns  destabilization  Russia  information_warfare  delegitimization  deception  overreach  power_grid 
december 2016 by jerryking
For Putin, Disinformation Is Power - The New York Times
AUG. 5, 2016 | The New York Times | By ARKADY OSTROVSKY.

Vladimir V. Putin told Larry King on CNN that his previous job as a K.G.B. officer had been like that of a journalist. “They have the same purpose of gathering information, synthesizing it and presenting it for the consumption of decision makers,”...During the Cold War, the Kremlin interfered in American politics for decades. The K.G.B.’s so-called active measures — subversion, media manipulations, forgery and the financing of some “peace” organizations — lay at the heart of Soviet intelligence.
disinformation  Vladimir_Putin  history  anti-Americanism  subversion  Donald_Trump  security_&_intelligence  Kremlin  WikiLeaks  propaganda  cyber_warfare  Cold_War  triumphalism  narratives  Dmitri_Medvedev  KGB  information_warfare  destabilization  deception 
august 2016 by jerryking

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