Western governments need to ‘get their act together’ against Russian cyber tactics


Date: 5th Oct 2018

The Head of Aviation and Security at Buckinghamshire New University has warned the UK and other western governments to ‘get their act together’ against Russian cyber hackers as the Internet and social media join more traditional weapons on the global battlefield.

Phil Wood was speaking after it was revealed that Dutch security services expelled four Russians in April over a plot targeting the global chemical weapons watchdog and the UK government accused Russia's military intelligence service of being behind four high-profile cyber-attacks.Phil Wood

Mr Wood, who had a 20-year career in the military, warned that ‘online and physical battles to dominate ideas and territory’ were here to stay.

“A perceived inability of the West to get its act together to deal with this threat is allowing Russia’s confidence to continue to grow,” said Mr Wood.

“The cyber battle space is an element of the wider hybrid warfare campaign that Russia is waging, designed to not only attack systems but also undertake synchronised destabilisation and influencing activity.

“We should be under no illusion that the current state of affairs, where such aggressive activity is being carried out across borders, whether involving the use of chemical weapons or social media ‘bots’ to impersonate real people and influence debate and politics, is redolent of the Cold War.”

Mr Wood said in a social media age, influencing thought and opinion was ‘just as effective’ in damaging a government or confidence in it as aggressive attacks.

He added: “This insidious and persuasive approach, involving fake news as well as the wider arsenal of capabilities that Russia holds, is seemingly very effective.  

“How this current round of accusations will be received by Russia is yet to be seen. It is highly probable that there will be denial and behind closed doors it will probably be of minor consequence to the Russian leadership.

“Most important for them is that they are able to see that their policy and approach in both cyber and hybrid warfare is working, as seemingly evidenced by the significant shift change in citizens’ confidence in government and politics in the West.

“There is a long-term and ambitious game being played here which is serious and has specific end goals and objectives. The online and physical battles to dominate ideas and territory are here to stay, with each side conducting attack and defence in line with its capabilities, long-term ambitions, and own code of ethics and legal parameters.  

“This is the future of international relations and the upper hand will continue to shift according to whichever adversary has the technological capability as well is the ambition and will to overcome the threats that they respectively perceive to be facing them.

“With so many variables and with so much to gain, this activity across military, political, economic, civil, and information battle spaces is part of the future as well as a current issue.

“The consequent threat that has yet to be more openly considered is whether this becomes more of a physical confrontation as time and complexity go on.

“Cyber warfare is played out through IT systems but it is no game and if there is a game being played, it is a long one.”


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