A quick round-up of several ongoing cognitive security highlights in Denmark: (1) highlights of the government’s annual risk assessment, (2) the Danish Institute for International Studies, Russian Influence Operations brief, and (3) The University of Copenhagen’s Department of Political Science and their Digital Disinformation effort.
1. The Danish Defence Intelligence Service’s
2018 Intelligence Risk Assessment
highlights Russia’s political and military activities as impacting Danish security. The sixty-page document provides a top-level review and several highlights are noted:
page 19 – Russian influence campaigns in the West – Russian influence campaigns are a growing threat, as they are launched with the purpose of influencing internal political conditions in Western countries. Russia uses influence campaigns as yet another tool in international politics to create the best possible setting for Russia to obtain its foreign policy goals.
page 20 – Russia’s influence campaigns directed at the West
• Information campaigns by Russian state controlled media targeting Western audiences
• Russian-controlled false Internet trolls criticizing people on social media
• Bots, i.e. automated false profiles on social media designed to disseminate desired messages
• Dissemination of contents and contacts through think tanks and research institutions
• Personal contacts to decision-makers and opinion formers, often through Western intermediaries
• Attempts by Russian intelligence services at recruiting Western opinion makers
• Hacking and selective publication of information
• Offensive intelligence operations
page 20 – Influence campaigns a growing threat – also against Denmark
The threat from Russia’s influence campaigns will likely grow, also against Denmark. It is also likely that Denmark may become the target of such campaigns with little or no notice. Russia will highly likely be able to target and adapt its influence campaigns against Denmark, designing them to focus on political issues that resonate with segments of the population.
page 25 – Russian influence outside the post-Soviet space
Russia will also strengthen its influence outside the post-Soviet space and the Baltic Sea region. Russia will thus try to prevent more Western Balkan countries from joining NATO. In addition, Russia is expanding its influence in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East at the expense of the United States.
2. DIIS, the Danish Institute for International Studies put forth a policy brief,
Russian Influence Operations – Trying to Get What You Want
a few months back. The brief noted that the cognitive domain is central and that Russia can select from a very large toolbox when engaging in influence operations. The different tools are all ultimately used in attempts to influence personal views and/or public opinion. Russia’s many activities have put the West on the defensive. However, the digital tools it uses are Western in origin, and Russia is unlikely to assume the lead in developing new technologies.
Four recommendations are offered:
■ Prepare for an ingenious and robust use of the influence operations toolbox on the part of Russia: it is important to think creatively to counter this use.
■ Focus on the most important cases: it is impossible to prepare for all eventualities within what is a vast arena.
■ Expect international regimes designed to regulate influence operations launched in the digital domain to be difficult to establish and uphold.
■ Recognize that cognitive resilience therefore is critical.
3. KU’s Digital Disinformation Program
University of Copenhagen’s Department of Political Science and their Digital Disinformation effort strives to provide novel insights into what makes digital disinformation successful in propagating into news media, how professional trolls and nonhumans (bots) are implicated, and how receptive different countries and media platforms are to disinformation.
Aside from academic research, the effort just published an awareness article, How to Discover Fake News, in DaneAge, a popular magazine for Danish senior citizens.