How to Recognize Foreign Influence Operations

Posted: 4th June 2018

Cody Barrow is a product manager at Recorded Future and serves as a member of the Cyber Council for the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to improving public-private partnerships. He also co-leads INSA’s Cyber Intelligence Operations Working Group with former Director of the National Security Agency and INSA Advisory Board Member (Emeritus), Admiral William O. Studeman.

The INSA Cyber Council recently published one of Barrow’s papers with contributions from Admiral Studeman and a handful of industry leaders on the Cyber Council, “Getting Ahead of Foreign Influence Operations.” This position paper was written to help the public-private sector distinguish between influence operations and messages in cyberspace as a medium for conducting influence operations.

In addition to the recommendations in the paper, Cody suggests the casual newsreader can recognize foreign influence operations by:

  • Applying traditional advice to read multiple news sources

  • Understanding who’s bankrolling a publication and whether it’s beholden to a national government (if you can’t find out, that’s a red flag).

  • Looking into age and pedigree (e.g., the fake news sites that popped up in 2016 sometimes didn’t have clear ties to Russia, but you could see they were registered within the last year and remarkably started pumping out a great degree of content with no clear parent, funding, or talent source).

  • Applying the same critical thinking techniques that sharp casual readers have always used when reading tabloids.

To learn more, be sure to download the PDF version of Barrow’s paper, “Getting Ahead of Foreign Influence Operations,” or request a personalized demo to see how threat intelligence powered by machine learning can help you stay ahead of cyberattacks.