The Cyber Bear 3 “Humans evolve because they communicate,” and the growth of online communication has been little short of staggering. Essentially a research project in 1969, a recognizable internet emerged in the early 1990s. By 2003, the world had 6.3 billion people and 500 million devices, meaning one internet-capable device for every 12.6 people on the planet. The capa- bilities of connected devices continued to grow, and the numbers (as the diversity of connected devices expanded) picked up with breathtaking pace. By 2010, not only was the average connected device more impres- sive than its counterpart from 7 years earlier but also the world’s 6.8 bil- lion people were complemented by 12.5 billion devices. The devices were not all distributed evenly, but nonetheless, in less than a decade, where people had once outnumbered internet-connected tools by more than 10-to-1, they were swiftly outnumbered by them by nearly 2-to-1.6 For anyone seeking to leverage connectivity for economic or strategic advan- tage, this truly awesome rate of growth represented boggling opportunity. A LEGACY OF DISINFORMATION “Stalin would have loved Twitter,” wrote journalist David Sanger.7 Suhit Raman, at the time serving as a U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General, noted in 2019, “The Russian active measure campaign is very much in line with what they’ve been doing for decades. What is different is the cyber-enabled aspect.”8 Active measures is a term often used to refer to the actions involved in disinformation campaigning. Indeed, one notable example of an early Russian active measure pre- ceded the advent of the Soviet Union the tsar’s Okhrana secret police were responsible for The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 1903 publication falsely purporting to be a Jewish blueprint for world domination and manipulation. It is an obscure but not unheard of piece of disinformation, and while it rode on the coattails of a long legacy of anti-Judaic and anti- Semitic hostility across much of the European and Middle Eastern world, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion also perversely served to help refashion earlier antipathies into the modern era anti-Semitism most recognizable in the Nazi genocides known as the Holocaust. Effective disinformation efforts latch on to existing ideas and suspi- cions and reshape them in order to advance the purposes established by the strategists who set information operations into action. Ladislav Bitt- man, once a deputy chief of the disinformation department of Communist Czechoslovakia’s intelligence service, observed, “Every disinformation message must at least partially correspond to reality or generally accepted views” in order to take hold.9 Thus, rather than attempting to necessarily create an antipathy from scratch, the perpetrator of disinformation may associate a new target with a traditional one or may work to revise the
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