Information Warfare: Russia’s social media war on America

Using social media is a great way to pass time. However, what you see on social media is not always, what it seems. There was a report that Russia expertly tailored messages to target about ten thousand twitter users in the defense department. Once the users clicked on the messages, they were brought to a Russian web site where malware was downloaded to their computers possibly compromising the defense department. The Russians have been spreading propaganda for years on social media. They see it as a platform for disabling the worldwide spread of democracy. The United States does not really try to spread propaganda on social media and because of that, the Russians have about ten years more advanced sophistication of spreading propaganda on social media.

Back in the 2016 election when you heard of the stories about Hillary Clinton deleting confidential emails, there might have been the possibility of Russia spreading this information around the United States. Supposedly, Putin of Russia had it out for Clinton saying that she tried to start a revolution in Russia sending signals for people to stand out and protest. Now I do not know if that was really the case and it sounds plausible, but that is a good enough reason to start a cyber war against the Hillary Clinton political party. There have also been accusations against the trump political party for colluding with Russia to leverage the vote in his favor. Personally, I like the Russians and do not see anything wrong with collaborating with Russia in any sort of endeavor. Maybe some of these accusations are more inflated with personal views than we would like to think.

Spreading propaganda through social media is a big strategy for countries that like to push their political views on other countries. Gaining the approval of the public is a big part of what makes a government sustainable in the world today. The use of bot-nets is a big strategy for governments that use information warfare because they can be relatively cheap and apply spam at an alarming rate. There are also bots on social media networks that can be used to argue with activists and collect opinionated data. In addition, these social media bots can help collect information on which people are easily persuaded to agree with the bots view agenda. When you see and ad on facebook that says, “Sponsored by”, the Russians buy those ads all the time. Information warfare is a constant turning machine affecting every aspect of our lives. You have to have a solid head on your shoulders to not become a tool in the dissemination of messages from an adversary.

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Information Warfare: Automation

Information warfare is used almost every day from attempts to disable a top military networks down to even the most unsuspected means of debating with someone on a social media post. I always wondered if artificial intelligence was being used on social media to rile things up amongst users. Apparently, many bots are designed to spread propaganda on social media sites. From climate change activists to the Russian conspiracy theorists there is a bot for everyone who aims to resort to social media to convey their views. Bots have been around for years and there is no end to them in sight. Anyone can create a bot these days with how technology has advanced.

How these propaganda bots work is that they scan social media for key words like “climate change” or “Russian”. After they have found any of those key words then they search a database for responses to the issue or view being stated by the poster. Once they have the reply they post it and sometimes they even go into an argument for days with a person who does not even suspect that they are arguing with a bot. Supposedly, these comments and debates are more effective than you might think because some people are hard-core debaters. The use of profanity and belittling of people breaks down their train of thought and is quite effective in spreading propaganda around social media outlets.

So beware of bots on social media outlets. Some may be actual people that you get into a debate with but there are also bots out there, I would say to mix things up. Using artificial intelligence and bots to spread propaganda has been around for years so keep your wits and be cautious when you head to the social media to convey your view onto other people. You may be criticized beyond recognition and you may be very angry about an argument, but hey, you should lighten up because it could just be a bot that has no feelings or views of its own and it just queries a database for replies to your argument whose only purpose is to get under your skin.

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Information Warfare: China’s Influence on United States

China is one of the biggest powerhouses in the world. If any other country went to war with china, they would be devastated by the shear manpower of the communist party of china. China has the highest population in the world. Other than shear man power china could be known to conduct information warfare in order to benefit the communist party. In politics, it is all about persuasion and china has a big hand in the use of persuasion, not only in china but in the United States as well. I learned that china has used the media in order to push their agenda and they have used their Chinese student and scholars association as well.

There is a trade war going on between china and the United States and what a better way to gain the public’s acceptance than information warfare. The Chinese spread their message through social media and the newspaper outlets that they have through business contacts in the United States. If china can buy a politician than they can convey their agenda on anyone in that politicians corner. China is known for disseminating messages through a Chinese newspaper Qiao Bios and they even take out ads in the Washington Post. This is not a new technology but it is a never-ending quest from the Communist Party of China to influence organizations in the United States. I think that the main agenda is for them to push communism to the United States as you can already tell with many liberals pushing a socialist agenda these days.

Since the Communist Party of China controls the Chinese Student and Scholars association, they can also push their agenda there. A student of a university during a graduation speech praised the United States for being “fresh air” democracy and the university rebuked the student. A Chinese embassy official praised the University for rebuking the student and urged the association to do the same. I like the Chinese and I like Russians, I pretty much like everyone but terrorists, but information warfare has no face. Information warfare is a platform for anyone to utilize whether it be politicians or the homeless disseminating messages is a never-ending process.

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Information Warfare: Memes that Kill

Memes are one of the most popular internet trends today. In psychology, I learned that memes are ideas that are spread through different cultures. In the world today and in the future, information warfare will utilize memes because they are potent and powerful. In the future artificial intelligence may be designed to scrape the web for information on pressing issues and generate a vast wealth of memes to target certain audience and persuade the peoples view on those issues. Since there are so many memes out there today on social media and all different kinds of internet platforms, I am not so sure that we are not in that future already. The use of phishing to make personalized memes to attack people personally could be a future problem, and computational propaganda may be able to manipulate the public opinion.

So let us say that you and one of your friends are in an argument and it is getting very heated. The more and more that you argue, the more likely you are to become enemies. Since you are fighting, your friend has some pictures of you intoxicated and decides to make a meme out of your embarrassing pictures. Your friend posts that meme all over the internet and you are so embarrassed that you decide to never talk to that friend again. That is an example of using phishing to make personalized memes to hurt someone. Now let us apply that to the election where Hillary Clinton was accused of deleting emails. If you think about it that could have been a hugely magnified phishing meme attack from the Russians. On the other hand, she could just be guilty. Information warfare is definitely a politician’s favorite choice of weaponry so always keep in mind when you see memes that it could be part of a bigger agenda.

Computational propaganda is a big part of the usage of memes on the internet these days and will be for a long time to come. Memes have been around since the beginning of the human race, maybe even longer. Persuading the public opinion could be easy with memes because everyone loves them. Maybe, just maybe if you love a meme so much that if you confront a certain issue in life and you remember that meme that made you laugh so hard with similar attributes as the issue you are facing, you might be persuaded to act according to the views of the meme. If artificial intelligence gets involved in the making of memes, that is, if it is not already, there could be huge benefits for politician with that type of meme technology. Politicians’ lives are controlled by the public opinion so information warfare could be a very beneficial platform for them.

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Information Warfare: Strategy

Strategy is key in any type of warfare that a country can engage in. So what are some strategies for information warfare? Some strategies include low entry cost, blurred traditional boundaries, expanded role for perception management, a new strategic intelligence challenge, formidable tactical warning and attack assessment problems, difficult of building and sustaining coalitions, and vulnerability of the U.S. homeland. Although those are just some of the strategies as the use of information infrastructures evolves rapidly and many other strategies come into play, I would like to elaborate on two of the strategies above that I found very compelling as I learn about information warfare. The low entry cost and the vulnerability of the U.S homeland strategies of information warfare really made me think so I will go into those particular strategies.

Firstly, the low entry cost of information warfare is quite frightening if you think about it. Since it is such a low cost to acquire access to the internet and any information associated with the internet, anybody or individual can gain access to it. That means that there must be systems in place to prevent malicious use of information. The low cost means that even the poorest of adversaries can get into the mix of information warfare. Many terrorist organizations may utilize information warfare because of the cost efficiency. When terrorists have a resource, the United States will surely combat any utility necessary to prevent terrorism from spreading. Having the ability to secure networks and internet resources from the terrorists is probably a high priority in the United States.

Another strategy is the vulnerability of the U.S. homeland, although I have my doubts to this one I should write about it. Because the internet is accessible to everyone and is such a low cost that means that anywhere on earth is a potential battleground dealing with information warfare. If that is the case than that means that, the United States is vulnerable. The United States relies on a complex network for aviation, energy, etc. There must be a quick evolving security system in place in case even our weakest adversaries try to manipulate those networks and disrupt our resources. In the future, I am sure that America will still have the most powerful information infrastructure because of insight like this into the strategies of information warfare.

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Information Warfare: Offense or Defense?

Information warfare is a big concern these days with the fast evolution of technology. Using information warfare offensively can provide an effective means of advancing foreign policy or persuade political agendas. Using information warfare in a defensive way can allow for protection of sensitive information that could potentially fall into the hands of a malicious person or government. They are just a few of the many ways that information can be used offensively or defensively in today’s world. Today we will cover some offensive uses of information warfare and some defensive uses of information warfare and why it is so important to stay ahead of your adversaries in the technological advances of information warfare.

When thinking about information warfare from an offensive standpoint, the United States has the most developed information infrastructure in the world. Using information warfare offensively in the United States could possibly be able to prevent actual physical weapons from being used in war preventing civilian deaths. On the other hand, if we used information warfare offensively we could potentially damage systems that control planes or nuclear power plants, which could potentially harm civilians. Another thing to consider while using information warfare offensively would be the case that offensively using information warfare is considered an act of war. If bombing a building or shooting down a plane is considered an act of war from one country to another, I think that shutting down a nuclear power plant and putting it in a state of meltdown could be considered an act of war. Therefore, the offensive end of information warfare can be a very complicated issue ethically and morally and as other countries information infrastructure becomes more advanced the department of defense will have to be very prepared and careful in the decision process.

From the defensive view of information warfare, of course, we have to be prepared. The United States is fully aware of the vulnerabilities of our information infrastructure and some say they fear the digital “Pearl Harbor”. Hopefully nothing extreme in the form of exploits of these vulnerabilities ever takes place. President Bush issued a national security directive 42 in 1990 recognizing the vulnerabilities and presidents thereafter have added to the directive. So the United States is prepared defensively for information warfare, as other countries become more information infrastructural sound. Being defensively prepared is the biggest concern because technology advances so quickly. Anyone can get his or her hands on malicious software, but the sensitive information is protected. Disabling access to malicious software for devious persons should be an action that the government should take.

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Weapons of Information Warfare

Information warfare is a very complex term because it can imply anything to do with any piece of information available in the world. If you think about it, there are libraries all over the world filled with information and how much information on the internet probable exceeds the amount in a library tremendously. The first weapon of Information warfare is information collection. Having information can be the turning point in any information usage scenario. Say that you bought a cabinet from the store and it did not come with instructions on how to put it together. Another person bought the same cabinet but theirs did come with instructions. You would figure that the person with the information on how to assemble the cabinet would get theirs assembled first. The same goes with information used in warfare, the ability to collect information will be advantageous to the person or entity planning to use that information.

Information transport is another weapon in information warfare. It is very useful to have a mode of transport for information. In the example above the person with the instruction to assemble the cabinet could surely assemble the cabinet faster, but what if that person left the instructions at their friends’ house. If that were the case then that person would assemble the cabinet just as fast as the person without the instructions, maybe even slower using time to find the instructions that are not available. Having a mode of transport for information that is collected is crucial in weaponizing information. Be it the internet, a network, even floppy disks, being able to get information from one place to another could be a deciding factor in using information in a war.

There is also the protection of the information used in information warfare. Any country in the world has their top-secret information that they cannot let any of their adversaries know about. Whether it be encryption or transport of information just through external drives cutting out the internet, the protection of information is crucial in information warfare. Think about an action movie where a person is transporting information in a briefcase that is handcuffed to their wrist. That is an excellent example of something that is really done with highly sensitive data for say a government contractor. Snowden leaked sensitive data, which is an example of a data breach that needs to be addressed. Those are just three of the weapons of the many used in information warfare. The world we live in will always come up with new information weapons to overcome their adversaries.

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What is Information Warfare?

Information warfare has become the latest strategy in the never-ending war machine. It is using non-lethal attacks with information to disrupt their enemies’ information systems. The anatomy of information warfare is quite interesting as its main attacks are on electronic transmission, cyber attacks, and psychological operations. The Russians are notorious for the use of information warfare to cripple their neighboring countries. One way that information warfare is used to cripple electronic transmission systems is by jamming military communications or weapon guidance systems. This can have a very disastrous effect and the military should spare no expense in preventing such attacks. It can also target civilian uses like air traffic control, which prevents two planes from crashing into each other. Another example is to attack the Rail Traffic Management system which trains are fully controlled by.

Cyber attacks are a common place for information warfare also as disrupting computers for business can have a disastrous effect on a country. Say that the stock market was victim to a cyber attack rendering the stock market useless, which would put a big dent in the financial market. A socialist country could use that kind of an attack to try to cripple capitalism to push an agenda of some sort. I am sure that the government has many teams in place to work at preventing these types of cyber attacks. In the future maybe a mind reading apparatus that flies around in the sky marking areas where deception is taking place while alerting authorities who will sweep in and subdue the criminals could prevent a cyber attack. Another thing of great concern that a cyber attack could potentially target is a nuclear power plant. That could be catastrophic if the attack could trigger some sort of melt down and render a whole area of a country useless.

Lastly, there are the psychological operations that could degrade a nation’s morale by flooding social media with fake news. I read a substantial amount of fake news on social media and the President of the United States is always warning us about fake news. Psychological operations in information warfare are a big concern in today’s world. Being that the information on the internet is available to anyone in the world these days, I am sure that people would like to assure the validity of that information. Otherwise, the world will have misinformed people with malicious views due to misinformation, which could cripple a society.

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Information Warfare: Information Warriors

In 2016, President Obama created the Global Engagement Center to battle terrorist propaganda. The Global Engagement Center has also dealt with meddling from Russia in elections. The problem is fake news because in some countries they can make false news stories illegal but in America doing something like that would collide with the first amendment. President Trump is always talking about fake news and it is a real problem. The Global Engagement Center works with social media and FBI in an effort to prevent the spreading of foreign propaganda. They have to keep up with technology and their adversaries methods to prevent terrorist propaganda. Terrorist organizations used to use videos on social media to lure in potential recruits but now they have turned to advertisements and encrypted messaging applications. There is a never-ending amount of information that these information warriors in the global engagement center have to deal with.

Russian meddling in the election process is not a new thing. They have probably been doing it for decades with spies and a whole variety of platforms. The Russians have spread false information in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries to try to persuade the people to be against the American soldiers that are stationed over there. There are a number of different strategies that information warriors can use against each other. Spreading fake news or false information seems to be a big part of what information warriors are doing. To prevent this kind of propaganda or threats from other countries in the future there would have to be a technological breakthrough that could actually read peoples’ minds or something of that sort. The future of information warfare is yet to be decided. With the technological breakthroughs, there are more warfare types and methods.

I have learned that there is a number of information warfare based institutions in the world and that multiple Presidents of the United States are trying to address the different, very complex issues with information warfare. Information Warriors being employed by the United States is a very in demand profession that needs to expand faster than the evolution of technology to be able to prevent the evolution of information warfare. Whether it is our allies or our adversaries, one of these days there will be a perfection of the use of information warfare and it will hopefully be the good people.

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Information Warfare Mimetic Warfare

Memes are pieces of information within a culture that are passed around. I have studies memes in psychology and they are a very powerful tool especially when utilized for warfare. There are probably strategies in the department of defense to utilize memes. If you use any of the social networks these days you will see that they are jammed packed with memes. Many people do not know the significance of a meme or the power that one can have over a society or culture. Is the military working on a meme warfare division? The truth is after seeing the power of memes on society and cultures that they probably have many strategies that consist of using memes to persuade the people one way or the other.

One way to stay clear of the Mimetic Warfare is to use your common sense. Many memes out there should be considered jokes. However, some of society will be offended or more gullible to feed into the information that the meme represents. In one ear and out the other is the perfect strategy for viewing memes on the internet. By the time a meme may actually get to you, it could have been altered hundreds of different ways. There is really no credibility in memes if you think of them that way even though many of them are very funny. If a meme is a crack on an issue that is very important to you then you might feel offended or start to state your views and opinions more strongly over social media which could actually be a strategy of using memes in actual warfare.

Many people have much to say about memes but the majority of them do not take the time to sit back and think of the implications of some of the memes that they are spreading. Not everyone sees everything as a joke, even though I personally thing that memes are the best going brand of jokes out there. People need to lighten up and really start to appreciate the humorous qualities of memes instead of getting bitter when the implication of the meme touches a sensitive part of your views. Memes will always be used for a certain kind of information warfare and always have been. People have been complaining about memes since papers in print first came out a long time ago.

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