What do we know about the Russian cyber ops playbook?



For Russia, cyber-operations are a subset of overall information warfare and a way to integrate hacking seamlessly into influence campaigns, according to Ryan C. Maness, an assistant professor in the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School, and Margarita Jaitner, a warfare analyst at the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

Our research looks at Russian cyber and information warfare activity — and distinct patterns begin to emerge. But this is a nonlinear strategy and a long-term assault on Russia’s adversaries, they write for the Washington Post:

By changing an adversary’s perception of reality, Russia hopes to exert pressure on that country’s decision-making. For example, in Ukraine, Russia has used a wide array of measures to divide that country’s population and keep it in perpetual conflict. This includes overt tactics such as spreading disinformation about pro-Western candidates on social media, as well as covert tactics such as contracting organized crime to commit atrocities to create fear in unsuspecting populations.

Russia has been conducting information warfare for a very long time — current doctrine has roots that go back to Soviet times. The nonlinear warfare (or reflexive control) tactics include the ability to control information — inject, alter, obfuscate or withhold altogether — as well as the timing for these actions. The Kremlin’s aim is to sow perpetual discord in governments and populations, beyond just one election cycle.

The Russians have punched far beyond their weight when it comes to cyberwarfare, a prominent U.S. Senator said Saturday, and America isn’t keeping up, Fastcompany reports:

Speaking at the SXSW conference in Austin, Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, noted that Vladimir Putin’s government got “great bang for their dollars, or bang for their rubles” by exploiting vulnerabilities on social media during the 2016 presidential elections, and that it may be time for the U.S. to rethink its military budget.

“I come from one of the most pro-defense states,” Warner said, “but if you look at what we’re spending [on the military], $700 billion, the Russians are spending $68 billion.”

The reason we know so much about the Russian information operations which targeted the United States from 2014 to 2017 is that some Russian journalists are very good at their jobs, the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab adds. It was Russian journalists, too, who provided the sharpest insights into the workings of Kremlin propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik, disproving the outlets’ claims to be no more than journalists. Here’s how previous investigations shed light on Russian disinformation…… Read  More

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