The Shadow War: Cognitive Warfare and the Politics of Disinformation

shadow-warFor better or for worse, we live in a world that is an anarchy of nations. Over the last few decades, warfare has transcended traditional battlefields. We may already be experiencing a cold World War III, not with bombs and tanks, but through the covert methods of cognitive warfare and disinformation campaigns. IT professionals find themselves literally in the trenches of this war.

The Silent Battlefield

Global conflicts now often are fought in the digital realm. Bad actors supported by nation states use advanced strategies to manipulate public perception and political outcomes. This "shadow war" involves cyber operations, disinformation, and cognitive warfare to undermine adversaries without direct confrontation. 

China's Cognitive Warfare Tactics

Modern cognitive warfare leverages advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) allowing deepfake attacks. Taking a page out of Russia's playbook, China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has integrated information and psychological operations into its military doctrine, focusing on dominating the cognitive domain. By exploiting social media and other digital platforms, China seeks to control narratives and influence public opinion, often through disinformation campaigns.

Implications for IT Security

IT professionals must be aware of these tactics, as they represent significant cybersecurity threats. For example a country like the Philippines, with a combination of extensive social media use but lower digital literacy, are particularly vulnerable. Effective countermeasures on a country-wide scale would include strategic communication, enhanced cybersecurity, data privacy, and promoting digital literacy.

The Politics of Disinformation

It is a thin, sharp line to walk, because the battle against disinformation--which is nothing but social engineering on a grand scale--can sometimes blur into political censorship. Efforts to combat fake news might risk infringing on free speech. This raises the issue of balancing national security and civil liberties. We do not claim to have answers here, but we do need to enlighten our stakeholders.

A Call to Action for IT Professionals

As this shadow war escalates, IT security experts together with their C-level execs and HR must develop robust strategies to address both technological and psychological threats. Building resilience against cognitive warfare and disinformation requires collaboration on a company, industry and national level. It starts with a concerted effort to build an organization with a strong security culture

The future battlefields are both on earth and in space, digital and ideological, and shaped by invisible forces. IT professionals play a crucial security role in defending against these threats, often fighting a war they did not sign up for. 

NEW RELATED POST: Elon Musk Reveals 'Tough Problem' Battling Russian Jamming Efforts On Starlink Amid Ukraine War: 'Spending Significant Resources'

Request A Demo: Security Awareness Training

products-KB4SAT6-2-1New-school Security Awareness Training is critical to enabling you and your IT staff to connect with users and help them make the right security decisions all of the time. This isn't a one and done deal, continuous training and simulated phishing are both needed to mobilize users as your last line of defense. Request your one-on-one demo of KnowBe4's security awareness training and simulated phishing platform and see how easy it can be!

Request a Demo!

PS: Don't like to click on redirected buttons? Cut & Paste this link in your browser:

Subscribe to Our Blog

Comprehensive Anti-Phishing Guide

Get the latest about social engineering

Subscribe to CyberheistNews