When it comes to content-based cyber operations, US is behind Russia says Cyber Attaché of the Czech Republic to the US

Published: Apr. 24, 2019 at 4:58 PM CDT
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Knowledge truly is power. This is one of the reasons the Cyber Attaché of the Czech Republic to the United States says he wrote the book “Unmasking Maskirova: Russia’s Cyber Influence operations” (Defense Press, 2019). As the Cyber Attaché, Daniel Bagge is responsible for the relationship between the U.S. and the Czech Republic within the field of cybersecurity. And he says “all parts of (the U.S.) government need to educate themselves” on what cybersecurity entails. “They need to understand the possibilities, impacts and the interconnectivity between code-based and content-based operations. How it can paralyze decision-making in the most critical time, or alter a political race, elections,” Bagge tells KWQC. He says while Russia and the U.S. are both in the top three in the world when it comes to code based activities. “When it comes to content-based operations, Russia is by far ahead,” says Bagge.

Russia has launched very specific informational war campaigns some of which Bagge outlines in his book. But these attempts to “achieve not only military but also political objectives and how they are propagated through cyberspace” are often misunderstood by mainstream media and researchers says Bagge. He says Russia’s informational war tactics and initiatives are maintained and ongoing regardless of whether it’s a time of peace or war, and that Moscow operates with three layers in mind: infrastructure, the information itself, and the interaction between the information and the audience “which plays a significant role,” especially within the digital world. Bagge says the U.S. and allied countries have considered only the infrastructure level as a “ground for cyber-enabled activities” for too long. “U.S. and allied countries simply do not conduct information warfare, psychological operations or disinformation campaigns as a part of national security or defense doctrines in peacetime. And they do not conduct this information warfare towards their populations,” Bagge tells KWQC.

Bagge does point out that melding military and non-military means of influence presents “grave threats to value-based systems of Western liberal democracies.” And that it is important to look at the hybrid warfare landscape as not just a struggle “between two weapons platforms, it is between two decision-making systems, with different sets of values. The tools at the disposal differ as well. What is very important to understand is that the information warfare or cyber influence campaigns almost never create anything new. They use already existing grievances, nurture mistrust where the seeds had been already planted, point out our own mistakes or misfortune to an extent that antagonizes other societal groups. That’s why Bagge says the best way for the U.S. to strengthen its fight against Russia’s misinformation campaigns is to strengthen its democracy.