The goal of Russian interference is to trigger emotional reactions and drive people to ideological extremes, making it nearly impossible to build a consensus. But Americans are less likely to have their emotions manipulated if they are aware that manipulation is the goal.
Disinformation has become a central feature of the COVID-19 crisis. This type of malign information and high-tech “deepfake” imagery poses a risk to democratic societies worldwide by increasing public mistrust in governments and public authorities. New research highlights new ways to detect and dispel disinformation online.
Russia's hostile information operations are continuous and extend to a broad range of domestic issues. First Amendment concerns are important, but they do not protect hostile information campaigns by foreign actors, nor are they a legal excuse for inaction by the United States.
Humans carry flaws in deciding what is or is not real. The internet and other technologies have made it easier to weaponize and exploit these flaws. And artificial intelligence will likely be used to exploit these weaknesses at an unprecedented scale, speed, and level of effectiveness.
Moscow's form of information warfare targeting the West has attracted significant international attention since 2014, especially through its reinvigorated military intelligence branch. Nonetheless, little research has focused on these campaigns' apparent shortcomings. Most notable among operational errors are the confusing translation mistakes that undermine attempts at covert influence efforts.
Russia has executed deliberate intrusions into U.S. critical infrastructure since at least 2011. These systems have included government entities, commercial facilities, water resource plants, and aviation institutions. What actions or policies can the U.S. execute to improve security?
The Mueller report could help mobilize political pressure in the United States for a stronger posture toward Russian activities that harm American and allied interests. But the Kremlin will likely still see propaganda, disinformation, and subterfuge as useful tools to undermine America's values and cohesion.
Operations in the information environment will be a critical part of future joint force operations and should be baked in to those operations as a fully valued tool in commanders' combined arms toolboxes. Reaching that goal will require greater acceptance and understanding of information across the joint force, new structures for information forces, and the evolution of how operations in the information environment are handled within the staff.
They've been called political warfare, measures short of war, gray zone warfare, and a host of other terms. Russia has used a wide range of hostile measures to expand its influence and undermine governments across the European continent. These tactics should be appreciated for what they are: part of a larger, coherent Russian effort, but ultimately not an insurmountable one.
RAND serves as an objective source of facts that help inform the world's most pressing policy debates. When decisions are based on the best evidence, that's when public policy can have a positive impact on people's lives. We're highlighting the 10 research projects that RAND.org readers found most engaging this year.
National security experts, flag officers, and decisionmakers attended the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security at RAND's Washington office on October 24. The featured speakers, moderators, organizers, donor, and namesake for the event were all women.
New reports suggest that the Kremlin may have company in its efforts to shape the United States' domestic information landscape: Iran. As Americans prepare to return to the voting booths this fall, Washington would be well advised to look into Iran's disinformation capabilities and intentions.
It is crucial that the United States and its coalition partners take into consideration and preempt the ISIS nostalgia narratives that may seek to define the group's legacy and prepare a foundation for its resurgence throughout the Middle East and beyond. The legacy ISIS should be remembered for is one of misery and despair.
The United States' principal adversaries are fighting and gaining ground by employing a host of tactics short of all-out war. This form of warfare, once called political warfare, is back with a vengeance, empowered by new tools and techniques.
In a March 1 address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin evoked Soviet-era exaggeration, proclaiming barely feasible economic and social goals and boasting of nuclear arms that are unlikely to change the strategic balance. Continued exaggeration could sap public confidence in the legitimacy of Russia's ruling system and leaders.
Nation-states and their proxies are regularly spying and attacking in cyberspace across national borders. The U.S. and other Western societies that are being targeted should do three things: Be less vulnerable, be able to recognize and mitigate the impact of attacks faster, and be prepared to respond in kind to all levels of offense.
China's efforts to cultivate support in and control diaspora communities threaten to worsen inter-ethnic tensions, aggravate political and social polarization, and harm the civil rights and freedoms of citizens in other countries. Such activities merit close attention by democratic governments seeking to counter China's influence operations.
When leaders take actions that are unpopular with wide audiences, propagandists have it easy. While Western leaders should not make propaganda potential the primary factor when weighing policy decisions, neither should they wholly disregard the opportunities that unpopular policies will offer adversaries.
As the United States increasingly contemplates acquiring clandestine capabilities for deterrence and warfighting, it should consider rethinking its approach to managing these programs. A unified management approach would go a great distance toward meeting the challenges of these capabilities.
Hezbollah's information warfare portfolio includes newspapers, social media outlets, television programming, and a major internet presence. Its websites reflect the group's diverse agenda and aim to be multi-generational in their approach, offering information about social services as well as a video game to engage youth.
The Islamic State's caliphate is collapsing but its legacy will live on virtually because of its information operations. The scale of the menace presented by the group today pales in comparison to other global challenges, yet it manages to dominate and terrorize the public mind.
For the last three decades, Russia has exploited its growing capabilities in cyberspace to spy on, influence, and punish others. The West will continue to struggle to hold Moscow accountable, in part because international law falls far short of fully defining the rules or resolving conflicts.
NATO alliance countries deploying to the Baltics should prepare to deal with increasing levels of disinformation. An open and robust communication strategy could be crucial in tackling a sophisticated Russian disinformation campaign aimed at disrupting support for these deployments.
More than 100,000 personnel in the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve have some degree of cyber competence, including thousands with deep or mid-level expertise. They could help defend the cyber terrain on which America's national security, prosperity, and democracy depend.
A massive, ingenious, and concerning campaign of propaganda has been pumping westward for years, supporting the Russian agenda in Ukraine and Syria and likely trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.
The failure to find the missing aircraft demonstrates anew the serious gaps in data coordination and challenges public assumptions about the thoroughness and simplicity of searching the world’s data for answers.