IPA Inaugural Cognitive Security Symposium

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Confirmed Speakers

Lieutenant General Michael K. Nagata – Deputy Director for Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counter Terrorism Center

Dana Priest – Pulitzer Prize Winning Investigative Reporter for The Washington Post

Dr. Aaron Lobel – Founder and President of America Abroad Media (AAM)

Dr. Chistopher Paul – Senior Social Scientist at the Rand Corporation

Dr. Rand Waltzman – Senior Information Scientist at the Rand Corporation and IPA Board Member

Conference Context

The global information environment (IE) today is defined by the rapid flow of an immense volume of information able to be accessed by handheld devices anywhere around the world. In some cases the IE is polluted to the point where it is virtually impossible for private citizens, businesses and governments alike to tell fact from fiction. The vast number of competing and often contradictory narratives being spread by a wide variety of players threatens Cognitive Security (COGSEC) on a global scale as never before. Cognitive Security is a field concerned with influence and protection from influence of large groups of media users and consumers both online and offline. Although cognitive security emerges from social engineering and discussions of social deception in the computer security space, it differs in a number of important respects. In particular, Cognitive Security focuses on (1) the exploitation of cognitive biases in large public groups, (2) social influence as an end unto itself and (3) formality and quantitative measurement.

A major goal of the Information Professionals Association (IPA) is to help create and serve as a focal point of engagement for a network of international and regional organizations, civil society, academia and other entities in conducting research and information-gathering, and identifying good practices, emerging issues, trends and developments related to issues of Cognitive Security. This network will enable the IPA to play a leading role in facilitating links between academia, industry and government policy-makers.

To help focus the discussions of COGSEC at our first major event, our speakers may use current events and situations in which the information environment is playing a major role to gain an advantage to undermine adversaries in politics, business, or international conflict. The IPA is interested in strategies to defend and counter these information activities, the tools used by businesses and governments to carry out this strategy and the skills needed by individuals, groups and populations to defend against these activities.

The IE of the Korean Peninsula is one particularly interesting example because it is naturally connected with the IEs of, China, Russia and the US as each country competes to extend its influence and further its own agenda on the Peninsula. The DPRK’s efforts to become a nuclear power provide a perfect playing field for this competition as each country tries to
influence the outcome of the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions. The moves and counter moves of the competition are conveyed to Chinese, Russian and US populations by China, Russia and the US through the global IE to gain their support.

The modern information environment and its enormous volume of information, the speed with which information travels and the ubiquity of handheld mobile communications indicates that the threats within the IE will increase and be used by those seeking to gain an advantage in business, in politics, and in international conflict. How we address these threats to Cognitive Security and the opportunities within the information environment enabled by these same characteristics will be the focus of the IPA.

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