• Ariel Lilli Cohen

Hunting for a Signal in the Noise

עודכן ב: פבר 27

Industries (IAI) told "Some of them are dedicated, for example for gaming. Some of them are microblog networks like Twitter. Some of them are friend-based networks like Facebook. Some of 1them are used to share documents.Some of them are used to share messages,but there are tens of thousands of social networks"

Conventionally, these diverse social media platforms provide opportunities for collaboration. Groups share work and knowledge (Key­ note,Prezi, Slideshare) or documents (DropBox, Google Docs, SharePoint),connect and update friends, family,and colleagues (Facebook, Linkedin,VKontakt,RenRen), communicate and instant message (Skype, Snapchat,What­ sApp), track the locations ofother social groups (Find My Friends, Foursquare, Google+, Local mind), create instant conversations with stran­ gers (Whisper, ShapR),establish virtual class­ rooms and learning environments (Blackboard, Hangouts, Moodie), microblog (Jaiku,Tumblr, Twitter, Sina Weibo), and transmit real-time news through images and videos (Instagram, Periscope,Vine,YouTube). In addition,these activities disseminate attitudes and ideologies to awide,interactive audience,whether the intended outcome is for consumerism, intellec­ tual or academic discussion,or to spread political or ideological belief systems.

The 2015 Global Web Index Insight Report 'Social Networking Motivations' states that "social media is a significant driver towards more open and direct dialogue among different

socialgroups" and "half oftransparency within gc>VEmmeMfil!WE!: as the ability ofthe people toengage in the decision-making process ....These socialmedia platforms offer unprecedented opportunities for people to connect with their friends and others with similar interests or agendas, to share their experiences and opinions, to follow their friends' activities, and receive informa­ tion (sports, culture, news, etc.), express them­ selves (report on their daily life activities, share photos/videos), and much more."

However, NATO's Strategic Communications Center ofExcellence (STATCOMCOE) White Paper 'Social Media as a Tool of Hybrid Warfare' warns that "theopportunities provided by information technology allow anyone to film, edit, and share information, images, and videos in real time,whether or not traditional media outlets report on the events.

This gives every individual the opportunity to become an information actor and distribute messages to audiences of unlimited number and size around the world." Such platforms also empower individuals to recruit followers and potentially achieve strategic political and military effects.

As a part of cyberspace, social media intro­ duces additional layers of cognitive,psychologi­ cal, and perception challenges to each domain ofwarfare. According to the STRATCOMCOE report, "when discussing the role of social media it is often referred to asa part ofcyberspace, however, it is difficult to distinguish when one is talkingabout social media as a communication platform [technical tools/information systems] and when one is referring to the interactions among information actorswho are creating con­ tent [theinformation itself]".

'Weaponised' social media has become especially prevalent in so-called hybrid warfare, where non-traditional force multipliers such

as cyber attacks are employed. When social media is exploited in this type ofwarfare, network infiltration, denial ofinformation and the EM environment, spoofing, and electroni­ cally tagged misinformation become powerful tactics."War is no longer about states against states [in the conventional sense]",Thomas Nis­ sen of the Royal Danish Defence College said

in his 2015 STRATCOMCOE Monograph 'The Weaponisation of Social Media', "but about identity and identity claims ...where social net­ work media is now used for military activities. These activities are,but not limited to, intel­ ligence collection, targeting, psychological war­ fare, offensive and defensive cyber-operations and command-and-control activities."

"Let's understand the nature of the modern threat of cyber security,"agrees Peshin. "In the past,warfare consisted of an army fighting another army. Today warfare has changed.

Today we are seeingwithin cyberspace, which is essentially a battlefront, an asymmetric warfare where individual insurgents, in some

cases criminals, terrorists, and nation states are fighting against one another, and this warfare happens within cyberspace because cyberspace provides amazing access. It pro­ vides access to networks, it provides access to command-and-control :networks, to people, and to critical infrastructure ."

Globally, defence and government organisa­ tions acknowledge that social media networks are used strategically by a range of groups. "Both state and non-state actors use hybrid approaches to pursue their political and mili­ tary aims ...combining military operations with cyber-attacks, diplomatic and/or eco­ nomic pressure, and information (propaganda)

campaigns,"the NATO STRATCOMCOE report states. Contemporary conflicts in Afghanistan, Crimea, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and eastern Ukraine reflect social media use for intelligence gather­ ing, increasing message visibility, distributing misinformation , co-ordinating supporters, identifying scattered mobile targets, or oth­ erwise influencing the temperament of the interactive audience as social media remains an important global forum for uncensored debate.

For instance,parody Twitter accounts of Russian leadership@DarthPutinKGB , (Presi­ dent Vladimir Putin), @SovietSergey (foreign minister Sergei Lavrov),, @AmbYakovenkoNot (UK Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko), and

@RusEmbassyNot , (Russian Embassy) were

briefly suspended in July 2016 after the director of the information and press department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Fed­ eration, Maria Zakharova , complained on her Facebook page in May that Euronews had used

a tweet from the spoof account @SovietSergey in one of its articles.

"It is not like peer to peer communications . And here is avery crucial point: within social networks,within social media, I can operate anonymously. Or I can become someone else.... A lot of modern warfare iswarfare for public opinion. So [potential threats] need public sup­ port,"said Peshin.

According to Peshin, the three important roles of social media inwarfare are firstly, organising the movements of asymmetric threats by recruiting and co-ordinating; secondly, influencing global public opinion - through a high number of access points with wide distribution -by manipulating the narra­ tive of social groups or global events as a sort of psychological warfare; and thirdly, providing anonymity. According to the NATO STRAT­ COMCOE report, the unregulated nature of the virtual environment provides the anonymity essential to "disseminate extreme views, deliberate misinformation , and create hoaxes without revealing the person or organisation behind the creation of the content". In addition,asymmetric and hybrid actors gamification of many types of social media platforms where "you become more of an asset ifyou check-in more than other people".Leaks can also be produced when specialists post spe­ cific details of projects they have worked on to boost the visibility of their profile on discussion forums or career-building sites. Such examples suggest that the social media activities that Modern attempts to control the sharing and distribution ofinformation through social media platforms may prove unsuccessful. As a result the volume, speed, and diversity of moni­ tored information can create super large data­ sets and information streams where discerning manageable, actionable content is difficult.

'Big data' refers to the increasing amount of digital information created by the proliferation ofweb-based platforms and their growing inter­ net user base. Mobile web access, cloud-based systems, the Internet of Things, GPS and other location services, traffic, public sentiment, individual comments, popularity ratings, data trends (whether human-generated , naturally occurring, or as a result of algorithms), and even publicly available up-to-the-minute weather, road, and public transportation line conditions, are all a part of the large scale and diversity of SOCMINT generated today.Modern forces that excel at collecting large amounts of data may find that they are unable to realise the critical benefits as not all of the data is useful,vital, or actionable. Although automated tools can tag and monitor data, not all of it may be associated with actual individuals or events.

"That's the big data challenge,"said Peshin. "And today a lot of companies are engaged in trying to find a solution for several challenges within social media ."Peshin described these challenges asverifying that someone on social media iswho they saythey are, even if several social media accounts are associated with the same person (identity resolution); pinpointing where the owner of an account is physically located (geolocation attribution);and then associate an adverse action to a specific perpe­ trator (assign retribution).

"Onceyou have the building blocks ofiden­ tity resolution,you know the physical entity behind the virtual entity, and once you know their location,you are able to attribute an action to a perpetrator,"said Peshin. "Once you are able to do that, once technology allows us to do that, then we will be able to mitigate a lot of the threats in cyberspace,because this would mean that there would not be an action with­ out a reaction ... and once the cost of the action rises, there will be less of these actions." The US Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate issued a solicitation in August 2015 for its USD9.9 million Multi­ Source Information Extraction and Network Analysis (MUSIENA) programme,which is aimed at developing analytical tools and algo­ rithms to address "challenges in multi-source fusion and social media exploitation empower­ ing the analyst with high performance, high accuracy and easily adaptable tools for threat assessment,explanation,and anticipation surrounding individuals ofinterest, groups and events" and deliver "rapidly customisable, learning-based text extraction to provide deeper understanding of the information that can be pulled from multi-source unstructured text".

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released the first results ofits Memex programme in 2015,which is aimed at developing next-generation search technolo­ gies that interact with shared information and improve "content discovery, information/

Part of the challenge of modern warfare is the growth in the importance of the cyber­ space domain and the correspond ing capabilities that subdue enemies without physical domain approaches.

The use of SOCMINT in cyberspace is essent ial to persistent threats to conduct business, disseminate information,and otherw ise operate with impunity and anonym ity. Equally important to cyber defence is composing complex analysis based on open source, non-classified,and extraction, information retrieval, user collabo­ ration and other key search functions" includ­ ing discovering non-traditional content in the deep web and domain-specific content in dark web networks like Tor, I2P and Freenet. Enabling technologies such as domain cus­ tomisation , complex event extraction, speech analysis, and text exploitation also address the challenges of creating dynamic, question­ able information from billions of social media posts generated by millions ofusers.Advances in open-source data mining, artificial intel­ ligence, and deep machine learning (advanced algorithms that decipher complex network architectures) are also being applied to big data problems.Militaries may be able to adapt to the digital transformation of modern warfare by investing in deep analysis tools to exploit infor­ mation nodes, extract key trends and patterns to support operational planning and ultimately harness social media as an instrument of national power. other raw intelligence data obtained through SOCMINT channels.

Flexible and agile data mining and learning technolog ies are needed to tailor operations to highly dynam ic situat ions, create discoverable targets from discovered information,and unify analytics w ith

cross-doma in events. Understand ing w hat affects and projects soc ial media behaviour in cyberspace is cr it ical for v isualisation, evaluation,action, and forecast ing in real-time events in the physical domain.

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