In March 2019, under the aegis of the United States Department of State, a group of researchers released a report called “Weapons of Mass Distraction: Foreign State-Sponsored Disinformation in the Digital Age.” The report mostly focused on foreign states’ propaganda, disinformation and fake news. Taking into account the upcoming US elections, the report can provide practical recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders.
The report begins with a horrific story broadcasted on the Russian state-owned “Channel One” in 2014. The story covered how Ukrainian soldiers crucified a child in front of its mother’s eyes. Later, this story was proved to be fake, and there was neither a killed child, nor shocked mother. Still, the story went viral. It had reached a much broader audience on social mediathan it did on television.
The authors refer to that story as “an example of Kremlin-backed disinformation campaign.” The authors of the report continued to state that “in subsequent years, similar tactics would again be unleashed by the Kremlin on other foreign adversaries, including the United States during the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.”
Undoubtedly, the fake story did a lot of damage to the reputation of Channel One and other state-funded media. It is clear why authors begin with that story — it was poorly done, obviously faked and quickly exposed. However, it showed how effective and powerful social media could be (despite all of the reputation risks). There is also an important point highlighted in the report, particularly that “the use of modern-day disinformation does not start and end with Russia. A growing number of states, in the pursuit of geopolitical ends, are leveraging digital tools and social media networks to spread narratives, distortions, and falsehoods to shape public perceptions and undermine trust in the truth.” We are used to research, dedicated to propaganda and fake news issues, that establishes only Russia is responsible for disinformation and fake news. This report, on the other hand, addresses propaganda and disinformation as a comprehensive problem.
In the introduction, the authors claim that disinformation is a problem that consists of two major factors: technology giants and their impact and the psychological element of how people consume information on the Internet. Technology giants have disrupted disinformation and propaganda, and the proliferation of social media platforms made the information ecosystem vulnerable to foreign, state-sponsored actors. “The intent [of bad foreign actors] is to manipulate popular opinion to sway policy or inhibit action by creating division and blurring the truth among the target population.”
Another important aspect of disinformation highlighted in the report is the abuse of fundamental human biases and behaviour. The report states that “people are not rational consumers of information. They seek swift, reassuring answers and messages that give them a sense of identity and belonging.” The statement is proved by the research showing that, on average, a false story reaches 1 500 people six times more quickly than a factual account. And indeed, conspiracy stories have become something usual these days. We see it has become even more widespread during the current pandemic — 5G towers, Bill Gates and “evil Chinese scientists” who supposedly invented the coronavirus became scapegoats. And there are a lot more paranoid conspiracy stories spreading on the Internet.
What is the solution? Authors do not blame any country, tech giants or the behavior of people. Rather the opposite, they suggest that the solution should be complex: “the problem of disinformation is therefore not one that can be solved through any single solution, whether psychological or technological. An effective response to this challenge requires understanding the converging factors of technology, media, and human behaviours.”
Define the Problem First
What is the difference between fake news and disinformation? How does disinformation differ from misinformation? It is a rather rare occasion that reports give a whole chapter dedicated to terminology. And the report “The Weapons of Mass Distraction” definitely provides readers with a vast theoretical background. Authors admit that there are a lot of definitions, and it is difficult to ascribe the exact parameters to disinformation. However, it states that “misinformation is generally understood as the inadvertent sharing of false information that is not intended to cause harm, just as disinformation is widely defined as the purposeful dissemination of false information.”
As it was mentioned in the beginning, authors do not attach labels and do not focus on one side of the problem. A considerable part of the report is dedicated to psychological factors of disinformation. The section helps readers understand behavioural patterns of how humans consume information, why it is easy to fall for a conspiracy theory, and how to use this information to prevent the spread of disinformation.
The findings are surprising. There are several cognitive biases that make disinformation easy to flourish. And the bad news is that there is little we can do about it.
First of all, confirmation bias and selective exposure lead people to prefer information that confirms their preexisting beliefs make information consistent with one’s preexisting beliefs more persuasive. Moreover, confirmation bias and selective exposure work together with other naïve realism that “leads individuals to believe that their perception of reality is the only accurate view and that those who disagree are simply uninformed or irrational.”
In reality, these cognitive biases are widely used by tech giants. That doesn’t mean that there is a conspiracy theory behind it. That means that it is easy for big tech companies to sell their products using so-called “filter bubbles.” Such a bubble is an algorithm that selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location, past click-behaviour and search history. Filter bubbles work well on such websites like YouTube. A Wall Street Journal investigation found that YouTube’s recommendations often lead users to channels that feature conspiracy theories, partisan viewpoints and misleading videos, even when those users haven’t shown interest in such content.
These days, the most popular way to counter misinformation is fact-checking and debunking the false information. In the report, the researchers presented some evidence that the methods we are used to employing, may not be that effective. “Their analysis determined that users are more active in sharing unverified rumours than they are in later sharing that these rumours were either debunked or verified. The veracity of information, therefore, appears to matter little. A related study found that even after individuals were informed that a story had been misrepresented, more than a third still shared the story.”
The other research finding is that “participants who perceived the media and the word “news” negatively were less likely than others to identify a fake headline and less able to distinguish news from opinion or advertising.” Obviously, there is a reason for that. It’s a lack of trust. The public has low trust towards journalists as a source of information about the coronavirus, says the latest research. Additionally, according to the American Press Institute, only 43 per cent of people said they could easily distinguish factual news from opinion in online-only news or social media. Thus, the majority of people can hardly distinguish news from opinions in a time when trust towards journalism is at its historical minimum. It is therefore no surprise that people perceive news that negatively.
This can have implications for news validation. The report states it can differ from country to country. “Tagging social media posts as “verified” may work well in environments where trust in news media is relatively high (such as Spain or Germany), but this approach may be counterproductive in countries where trust in news media is much lower (like Greece).“
A vast research basis also reveals the following essential findings. First, increasing online communities’ exposure to different viewpoints is rather counterproductive. The research presented in the report found that conservative people become more conservative and liberals become more liberal.
Second, the phenomenon called belief perseverance, which is the inability of people to change their minds even after being shown new information, means that facts can matter little in the face of strong social and emotional dynamics.
Third, developing critical thinking skills and increasing media literacy may also be counterproductive or have minimal use. Research shows us that “many consumers of disinformation already perceive themselves as critical thinkers who are challenging the status quo.” Moreover, even debunking false messages cannot be that effective. Showing corrective information did not always reduce the participant’s belief in misinformation. Besides, “consumers of fake news were presented with a fact-check, they almost never read it.”
What can be done here? Authors provide the reader with a roadmap for countering misleading information. Although the roadmap, which is also based on researches, can have very limited use, according to the report.
The main idea is to be proactive. While debunking false messages, developing critical thinking, and other tools have minimal potential, some psychological interventions can help in building resilience against disinformation. Authors compare disinformation and misinformation as a disease, and they propose we need a vaccine that builds resilience to a virus. This strategy means that people should be warned “that they may be exposed to information that challenges their beliefs, before presenting a weakened example of the (mis)information and refuting it.”
Another aspect of the roadmap is showing different perspectives, “which allows people to understand and overcome the cognitive biases that may render them adversarial toward opposing ideas.” According to the authors, this approach should focus less on the content of one’s thoughts and more on their structure. The fact that certain factors can make humans susceptible to disinformation can also be used as part of the solution.
What About the Tech Giants?
The authors admit that social media platforms should be playing a central role to neutralize online disinformation. Despite the fact that tech giants demonstrated their willingness to address disinformation, their incentives are not always prioritized to limit disinformation. Moreover, their incentives are aligned with spreading more of it because of its business model. “Users are more likely to click on or share sensational and inaccurate content; increasing clicks and shares translates into greater advertising revenue. The short-term incentives, therefore, are for the platforms to increase, rather than decrease, the amount of disinformation their users see.”
The technological section of the report is split into three parts dedicated to three tech companies — Facebook, Twitter and Google. While the report focuses on what companies have already done to counter disinformation, we will highlight only the recommendations and challenges that still remain.
Despite all the incentives that have been implemented by Facebook in recent years, the social media platform still remains vulnerable for disinformation. The main vulnerability is behind its messaging apps. WhatsApp has been a great source of disinformation during the Rohingya crisis in 2018 and during the Brazilian presidential elections in the same year. The second vulnerability lies in third-party fact-checking services staffed by human operators. Human operators are struggling to handle the volume of the content: “fake news can easily go viral in the time between its creation and when fact-checkers are able to manually dispute the content and adjust its news feed ranking.”
Despite all the vulnerabilities, including a colossal bot network, Twitter became more influential in countering the threat using such technologies like AI. The question of how proactive the company will be countering the threat still remains. Yet, Twitter now uses best practices, according to the report.
With its video-sharing platform YouTube and ad platform, YouTube might be the most vulnerable platform. The website, with its personalized recommendation algorithm (filter bubbles), has faced strong criticism for reinforcing the viewers’ belief that the conspiracy is, in fact, real. However, YouTube announced in 2019 that it would adjust its algorithms to reduce recommendations of misleading content.
However, it is not just the tech giants who should take responsibility for disinformation. According to the report, it’s countries who should bear the ultimate responsibility for “defending their nations against this kind of disinformation.” Yet, since the situation is still in private hands, what can the government do here?
For example, they could play a more significant role in engaging in regulating social media companies. According to the report, it doesn’t mean total control of social media companies. However, authors admit that this solution may have some implications for possible restriction of freedom of speech and outright censorship, and there is no easy and straightforward way to solve this complex problem.
What can we do about it? According to the report, technology will change, but the problem will not be solved within the next decade. And the fact is, we should learn how to live with the disinformation. At the same time, public policies should focus on mitigating disastrous consequences while maintaining civil liberties, freedom of expression and privacy.
The report provides readers with quite a balanced approach to the problem. While other research projects attach labels on countries or technologies, the authors of the report “Weapons of Mass Distraction” admit the solution will not be easy. It is a complex problem that will require a complex solution.
From our partner RIAC
Covid-19: Impacts on Pakistan’s Cybersecurity
The Covid-19 pandemic still remains the most dominant factor affecting global scenario. Neither the superpowers nor the developing countries are spared of its curse. Whole world is in a crisis like situation whether it’s a super power or state like Pakistan, which has already been facing external threat and internal instabilities. Like every other state in the world to continue the routine activities, Pakistan has shifted its workload to online databases. The shift to online forum has increased dependence on internet making the country equally concerned about safeguarding its cyber security – as safeguards and security systems of our cyber infrastructure are not so protective keeping in view the dynamic nature of cyber security. The government has recently launched its Digital Pakistan Policy which has acquired renewed significance in the current pandemic. Although it is a good initiative to facilitate the public but there are some loopholes that need to be addressed as Covid crisis seems to have prolonged indefinitely. There is a need to adopt effective measures so the weakness in the system can be effectively resolved on priority bases.
The current crisis situation has adversely impacted the educational hubs and other academic institutes which almost stopped functioning for a while. The government encourages the online classes and examination system. This not only helped schools and universities, but the research thinks thanks and other organizations were also able to resume their functions by utilizing online forum. Here the challenge for a country like Pakistan is the provision of fast and smooth internet connections in all the districts of country. But now days, students of KPK, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan and even in some districts of Punjab are facing connectivity issues. Students have raised their voices through social media forum and student Unions. Other than smooth provision of internet facility, state need to have a robust independent network security systems during Covid-19 because of more dependence on computer and internet networks and keep up with the rapidly changing cyber technologies. Dependence on foreign developed applications like ‘Zoom’ can be harmful in the longer term for privacy. Recently, an intrusion occurred during the webinar of Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) due to non-encrypted internet connection. In encrypted connection the risk factor still exists as the de-encrypted data is retained with the developers who can use it for their self-interest to harm the security of any state especially the states like Pakistan which is still in the nascent stage of acquiring and developing advanced cyber technology related tools. Another such incident occurred wherein the official website of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission was attacked by scammers but later on it was clarified by HEC that it was just that someone just took the screenshot and make changes in its HTML coding and uploads it , which seems to be , that website is hacked . Although this scam carried out in anger by internal rudiments was not so harmful and serious, but still it’s an alarm to be prepared for the rising threats and technological challenges that could be hazardous. It is, thus a big question mark on the Pakistan’s preparedness to face such challenges in future that could be serious in their nature.
Covid-19 has quarantined the people inside their homes; activities are limited to internet and computers. This has provided the cyber-criminals with the opportunity to breach the privacy and use it for their own interests. During this quarantine, people to kill boredom are downloading different kind of applications in their mobile phones and PCs and agreeing to give that application access to mobile data. This can be harmful and data of people can be used to cause damage to personal as well as national security, because this is an era of information warfare and any entity or state can take advantage of the data provided to them unknowingly. Cyber criminals and hackers whether they are from within the state or outside; sponsored by rival states can easily exploit the loophole of the existing cyber infrastructure as previously before Covid-19 crises, Pakistani infrastructure has been attacked several times which includes the banking sector as well as armed forces infrastructure. For instance cyber-attacks carried out by Indian organization Rattle snake on Navy’s Public relations Branch tried to manipulate the statements released by Public relations Branch. Above mentioned attacks carried out by India before Covid-19 were very alarming and threatening to national security. One can gauge the level of threat during Covid-19 when the whole country is working online. There have been efforts to digitize all the sectors of Pakistan with which whole data will be shifted to data clouds. This may lead to losing control over the data because once data is placed online, it will be available to everyone who can then penetrate easily and will be hazardous for national security.
To address the threats to data and preserve its national security, Pakistan needs a workable solution to protect its servers to store such huge bulks of national data. It also needs to maintain backup of the data to be on safer side. It needs to develop its own strong firewall security software against online viruses and Trojan horses to protect the data rather than being dependent on borrowed technologies and software because dependency in such domains in the longer runs can be harmful. So keeping in view the upcoming technological era and Covid-19 has to some added acceleration in the process of doing so. At this very moment, Pakistan needs to have a formalized national cyber security policy as an important pillar of national security.
The theory of hybrid warfare as developed by Generals Gerasimov and Primakov
The first complete development of the “hybrid warfare” theory by Russia – which, anyway, invented it – can be found in an article by General Gerasimov, the Russian Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff of the time, in an essay published in the weekly magazine Corriere Military-Industrial Courier in February 2013.
The high-ranking officer of the Russian Command started from a simple consideration, i.e. especially in the post-Cold War period, but even earlier, any regional or continental military action increasingly came closer to the line in which peaceful operations and military operations in the proper sense of the term tended to get confused.
The article was entitled- in a rather anodyne way – “The Value of Science is in the Foresight”. A cryptic reference, but indeed very clear later on, as we will see.
The post-Cold War experiences marked General Gerasimov’s central idea: at the beginning of the strategic theory of the Russian General, however, there was the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), i.e. the U.S. doctrine of the 2000s that placed the relationship between new technologies and the overall reorganization of the North American Armed Forces at the core of the debate.
Both Russia and China placed the RMA – which they saw operating well in Iraq – as the terminus a quo of their necessary transformation of technologies, goals, but above all, military organizations.
The defeat of Caporetto was organized by a very young German lieutenant, Erwin Rommel, who – without considering ranks and hierarchies too much – made up a unit that broke the contacts between the Second and the Third Italian Army with its assault squads consisting of only 11 soldiers and three machine guns, having a counterattack function.
The paradox, however, is that it was instead a great Russian and Soviet General, Ogarkov, who invented the same RMA, which he called the Military Technological Revolution.
In General Ogarkov’s mind, new technologies such as robotics and direct energy weapons, would design the whole new space of operations and even the political function of war, thus marginalizing the vast masses of infantry that were once necessary to win.
Just think here, by contrast, of the USSR victory against the Third Reich, which has always been a model for the modern thinking of the Soviet Union and later of Russia.
In essence, “hybrid warfare” is a way to add the necessary masses on the ground, but exactly as a function of the RMA and the new applications of psychological warfare.
Hence without unnecessarily regimentalizing them in an old nineteenth-century-style army.
General Gerasimov also rightly maintained that the basic rules of war had changed: the role of the non-military structures useful to achieve goals that were previously reached exclusively by war increased out of proportion. Here Russia had in mind the operations of Soft Power and economic and cultural influence by the United States and NATO, but also, in many cases – and this is the point that gave rise to the concept of “hybrid warfare” – the non-traditional means that achieved and sometimes outperformed the effects of conventional weapons. Financial warfare? War of information manipulation? War for raw materials? It depends on where you are.
Hence conventional warfare is related to armies and their size defines their ability to “last”, but only up to the enemy’s breaking point.
Lasting, a philosophical and even strategic concept that Henri Bergson, the great French philosopher – who walked around, with the yellow Jewish star, in front of the Nazi SS units in occupied France – described in his La Force qui s’use et la Force qui ne s’use pas.
In his hybrid warfare, General Gerasimov thought about the great peacekeeping forces, which currently consists of as many as 11,000 U.N. “policemen” – often with Rules of Engagement which apply above all to children playing football in parks – but will rise to 16,900 in three years’ time.
We shall solve the cases of Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic, which the U.N. and its peacekeepers shall convince to reach the umpteenth peace agreement between the Justice and Equality Movement and the Janjawid.
The NGOs, an excellent instrument of influence – as also General Gerasimov admitted – serve to cure the effects of war operations on the population, nothing more.
Hence, again in General Gerasimov’s mind, the final victory came above all from the covert and symmetrical work of many organizations: local volunteers; allied military; the more or less “spontaneous” people’s organizations; companies’ safety nets; criminal organizations (which everybody used anyway) and large mass demonstrations, as well as the traditional psyops operations.
This was the initial Russian response to the U.S. and NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia, where Russia was particularly interested in Serbia, as the axis of its national interest in the Balkans, which obviously exists.
The United States, however, responded by choosing, above all, the jihad, in spite of Russia’s quick entry – as a surprise operation – into Kosovo in 1999, when the Russian troops based in Bosnia entered Pristina – breaking an old agreement with NATO -by bringing Russian troops to close the border between Kosovo and Serbia.
That was the moment in which the United States radicalized – due to an anti-Russian bias – in the protection of Balkan countries that were almost completely jihadist at the time.
There was also the subsequent and stable U.S. presence in the Bosnian jihad, with Alja Izetbegovic, when Sarajevo was often visited by Osama bin Laden.
General Gerasimov, however, was a good prophet: the irregular forces in the Crimea, the other ones in Chechnya, many other “little green men” in Georgia and then in many peripheral areas of the new Russian empire did an excellent job and will still do so.
Because certainly technological superiority counts – indeed it is essential – but what really matters is the full and absolute political power on a territory or on a specific technology, operation, influence or Denial Area action.
China’s doctrine of hybrid warfare is very different from the Russian one. For Russia a stable relationship between its West and the Eurasian peninsula is always and in any case necessary – otherwise the Russian Federation would only be mostly Asia, Islam and the Siberian Far East.
For China the hybrid warfare doctrine is always direct heir to Sun Tzu and is currently defined as the technique of “winning without fighting”.
Meanwhile, China wants to securitize the peripheral territories in which it is interested, but without firing a shot.
The area of South China Sea, of the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands, of Guam, of the Vietnamese Sea, as well as the Guam air base (with the “Andersen” and “Apra” locations), which is fundamental for the United States to reach the Philippines and obviously Taiwan.
Nevertheless, whether you want to understand it or not, also the jihad has learnt the hybrid warfare lesson with great intelligence.
It has merged it – even neglecting some secondary Koranic rules – with the new conception of war that China interprets as “unrestricted warfare”.
The United States and Westerners interpret all this new hybrid warfare only as “terrorism”, thus attributing it to some “madmen”, according to the outmoded script of the reductio ad hitlerum. But it is indeed avery new form of war, a new war “from weak to strong”, like the French nuclear weapon against the Soviet Union (and not only it) and as it is currently thought by Russia, albeit by equalizing the nuclear potential.
The hybrid warfare gathers all the walks and parts of civil society, manipulates them, puts them together and turns them towards a Stay Behind-Gladio-style guerrilla warfare, but adapted to modern and future times.
Here it is not a matter of putting up resistance, as in the old Gladio structures, until “people rise up”, or to slow down the almost certain conquest, by the Warsaw Pact, of the Po Valley, because the new invaders and their friends will be well careful not to hurt the feelings or clash with the habits and needs of the non-belligerent local population. And they will not take their territory, but their resources.
Quite the reverse: again with its hybrid warfare, Russia will mainly carry out operations “from weak to strong” blocking its enemy’s information actions, backing their population and mixing with them, thus becoming unrecognizable and, above all, carrying out fully unconventional operations.
Either you take the radio and TV stations, as Nasser did at the beginning of his revolution with his “Free Officers”, or currently you control social media remotely, either through fake news – which are true instruments of “unorthodox” warfare, as it was called by NATO when a Marine officer, who led it, found himself lured and tricked by a pretty girl from the GDR Intelligence Services – or possibly even with the techniques of support, local manipulation and protection of the local population.
Hence currently Russia mainly plays the game of non-State actors, even imitating them, but there is the whole panoply of the current unorthodox war. It is evangelically waged on a small-scale with the small countries and on a large-scale with the big ones.
The important thing is always to eliminate the buffer areas around the enemy which, for Russia, is always the West and the United States.
The manipulation of illegal immigration, for example, or the organization of coups or separatist operations – shaping the aforementioned mechanism as the United States did with OTPOR, “Resistance”, the old brand that nowadays no one uses or understands any longer, which organized the fight against Milosevic from the basements of the U.S. Embassy in Hungary – or even the targeted assassination, or also the use, as strategic weapons, of energy assets.
Westerners’ tunnel vision towards “Islamic terrorism” did the rest – and forced them into the tunnel.
While it expected an enemy operating with very different criteria from the usual ones. This is the reason why, until now, the West has failed with the jihad. Another enemy arrived, mimicking the jihad but from State to State, and was much more dangerous.
In the 1990s Russia drafted four strategic documents.
In the NATO evaluations of the same period, especially in the field of hybrid warfare, there was little or nothing of politics and little of operational matters.
It seems that the von Clausewitz’s rule that “victory is the imposition of one’s own will on the enemy” has been forgotten and precisely by Westerners.
A sort of “damage reduction” theory, as with youth drugs, or a memory of the time when we were good, during the Cold War, at launching leaflets on the enemy’s population.
Too little. Much more was done by the carpet/saturation bombing, developed by the British Sir Arthur Tedder, after many Nazi examples.
All these Gerasimov-Primakov’s notes, however, are contained in the various military doctrines signed by Putin.
In January 2000, the Russian President signed the first modern Gerasimov-style National Security Concept, which listed the destabilization factors that are also those that Russia sees in the operations currently existing in the East: ethnic, nationalist and religious factionalism, a theme that is much far from Western doctrine, which exalts precisely factionalism, as happened in the template of the hybrid warfare of the time, the Second Yugoslav War.
There is also the weakening of the current mechanisms of international crisis control, which we see currently operating within the United Nations and its peripheral organizations, in which, indeed, the United States no longer wants to participate. There is also the “illegal implementation of military power and strength under the pretext of humanitarian operations” – and this is precisely dedicated to the West.
The response of this Russian document was directly targeted to the 1999 NATO Strategic Concept, in which the Russian side stated that only the U.N. Security Council could establish legal rules for regional interventions.
Certainly to be later present together in the West and control it.
The Russian national interests, reaffirmed in the 2000 document, were still the same: military cooperation in the CIS, on which Russia does not want foreign eyes; the creation of a unified military area (which is the basis for hybrid warfare), as well as stable unity with Belarus, where Western agents are now actively operating.
For Russia the criterion is always that of “broad security”.
What about NATO? Since 2015 – and severely late, indeed – the Atlantic Alliance has reached its own “doctrine” for hybrid warfare.
Again for NATO, which has probably not understood the size and the types of threat (and, in fact, it lost in the Crimea), hybrid warfare is “propaganda, strategic deception, sabotage”.
Probably it was so in the past, but nowadays hybrid warfare is much more, as we have quickly noticed.
Moreover, the responsibility of countering hybrid operations, which are not well defined in the NATO documents, falls within the allied nation.
With regard to Russia, the 360°approachadopted by the Alliance in July 2018 established that NATO planned to implement an advanced deployment of conventional deterrence forces in the Baltic States.
Furthermore, NATO is creating a centre for cyber operations to strengthen also “resilience” – now a magic and fashionable word -in the countries concerned.
All right, but there is never an attack strategy. Certainly the Alliance is only defensive, but it would be good to have a clear idea that, from Thucydides to the present day, defence and attack have always been closely interwoven.
There is also the support for the countries of the Southern Flank, with a very generic strengthening of the “fight against terrorism”, as already noted above.
Certainly, the 360°approachclaims it has “bogged down” Putin in the Crimea, but it already accepts the basic defeat in the Southern Flank where, however, there would be an enhanced “fight against terrorism”, regardless of what this expression means.
Hence “all-out war” – not palliatives – even in times of peace and this is the real final goal of “hybrid warfare”, while the world war is today kept as a remote option by the U.S. residual power of conventional or not conventional first and second strike – which will certainly not last forever.
The only ones who are thinking about the new scenarios – leaving aside Italian pettifoggers in the Intelligence Services and in other organizations – are the French.
General Thierry Burkhard, a man of the Foreign Legion, is thinking of a new concept: after the defeat or, however, the marginalization of the jihad, the real future clash will be the return of the old into the new, the struggle between States and States.
The conflicts of the future will be symmetrical again, State against State. He also maintains that Europe has become structurally weak; it does not “think” about the conflict, so it will lose it.
Hence General Burkhard thinks that France shall military strengthen its Armée de Terre and then focus on credible deterrence, also at nuclear level, as well as on the new concentration of its future operations both in the cyberspace and on the ground.
A hybrid counter warfare. In Italy, as usual, we have mere accountants in power, not even particularly brilliant, and the rest goes accordingly.
Anonymous Activism Through Cyberspace- 2020 Ventures
In between the hullabaloo of Corona pandemic, the distinct issues in cyberspace are anticipated to rise when the people all across the world have least to do forby operating their smart instruments and devices. The internet perceived to be the only soul on which world seems to survive during the ongoing lockdown and curfews quite certainly may face breakdown due to the extensive usage. One more agent that is focused upon taking away and astonishingly granting web control is the popular hibernated hacktivist force ‘Anonymous’. As per the record, it had bolted from the screen since 2017 which in the contemporary year has unexpectedly reappeared dominantly during the Black Lives protest movements and virus pandemic. The group intends to unveil the unjust actions of the political entities, operational governmental and non- governmental organizations. It is clued that this cyberpunk league has made a comeback with more prowess and mastery in year 2020 as it is alleged to hack the websites of major international organizations in February that is United Nations and World Health Organization. It is a real perplex to even presume the leading head of Anonymous as it has almost attacked every influential statecraft either it be United States, Russia or China. Since years the hacktivist force has been working without any identified human face relying on the symbolic white colored sneaky smug eyed mask viewed in the year 2005 movie ‘V for Vendetta’. Under the movie the Anonymous is interpreted as an anarchist fighting for Individualism.
Anonymous 2020 ingress
The team-Anonymous is credited to create a new flux recently in USA during the fresh flare of protests across the globe for George Floyd killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Aftermath the incident this hacker force had warned Minneapolis Police Department to expose its stern crimes to the world. Along with this threatening missive a DDOs attack was too launched against MPD.
In all this while when the protests were at full rage, the situation required a responsible retort, however the Atlanta police had got involved in another black killing of Rayshard Brooks on June12, 2020in the parking lot of the Wendy’s restaurant on University Avenue. This called out another cyber assault from the Anonymous and the APD website was made unresponsive the next day for a span of almost two hours.
It is intriguing to note that the hacktivist force mainly comes up during instable conditions and protests within a country or region. The ongoing worldwide protests for George Floyd somehow reminiscence of the Arab Spring strikes in 2011. The hacker force had also caught the eyes in the later Middle East strikes and now. In Arab Spring the Anonymous had slashed the governmental websites of several countries and their officials. The passwords and emails were made public. Their campaign was based against the free flow of information.
Anonymous: Bliss and Threat
On one hand a miscellaneous group of people deem the entity as a threat to national security and state autonomy whereas some consider it a bliss as it adheres to provide justice to the weak and minors. The league’s most recent virtuous embark during the pandemic was on May 28.2020. The twitter account of PLDT, a prominent telephone and internet company in Philippine was hacked as a consequence that they delivered terrible internet connection to their customers. The name of account was changed to ‘PLDT Doesn’t Care’. Henceforth the agent is responsible not only for taking away internet from some entities instead is also serving as a provider. A tweet that was retweeted several times on the hacked account in a single hour jotted:
“As the pandemic arises, Filipinos need fast internet to communicate with their loved ones. Do your job. The corrupt fear us, the honest support us, the heroic join us. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us,”.
Anonymous remains Anonymous
With all such ventures of Anonymous the idea is quite evident that the brand believes in non-violent means to impel the opponent to its will. Despite of its large ability to bring a ‘street action’ in words of Josh Corman Co-author to ‘Building a better Anonymous Series’ the group avoid collateral damage to minimum. It is apparently causing no hefty swindle to the innocents and states. It was predicted in the series part 0, year 2011 that the group will grow bigger and stronger however today we are closely seeing the implication. Today Anonymous is facing hefty critique from state authorities for illegal intrusion and civil disobedience. Today it faces disinformation as no one could ever grasp a confident understanding of this brand. In the latter week false information deliberately or in-deliberately was being communicated widely on social media referring to a DDos Attack from Anonymous fracturing the entire USA which after scrutiny was revealed to be a connection problem in T-mobiles phone sets. However, the idea that every cyber force do not oblige with morality cannot be neglected. Internet is a growing unsafe place where stored data is no more in one’s personal casket. The point to ponder and analyze for the affected statecrafts is not only about the league-Anonymous but the fact that the IT infrastructures of these significant organizations if are now approachable to this union, can be reached and maltreated by severalothers entities too.As guided by Gene Staffordfrom Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS):
“First, if a largely uncoordinated group could penetrate the systems and expose all this information, then so could a much more focused, well-financed, and malevolent group – and it would not likely result in postings picked up by the media. Attacks by narcotics cartels, organized crime, terrorists and intelligence agencies are obvious threats; we can only assume that some have already succeeded but not been recognized or publicized.” — Gene Spafford
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