Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine
While disinformation campaigns waged by Russia and ISIS have become common stories, little is discussed or understood about comparable operations conducted every day by Western countries. While the emphasis on these operations are often that they are directly attributable to their respective sources (e.g. that people know they come from the British military), units specializing in marketing, ads, information, and even disinformation work to support broad and specific missions at home and abroad. These units operate, out of necessity, outside the public eye, but some of the tools, strategies, and methods that they use are emerging into the public eye. In one unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group who saw some of their operational information leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013, employees used an arsenal of tools to allow mass email delivery, spoof SMS messages, impersonate Facebook posts, change online poll results, and artificially increase website traffic. Their targets ranged from Iran, North Korea, Russia, countries across Africa, and areas within the U.K. The necessity of this kind of cyber information warfare poses many problems, especially for democratic governments, who must walk a fine line between transparency and authoritarian behavior.