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Activity title

Exploitation of Cyberspace for Intelligence

Activity Reference

IST-159 (IWA)


Information Systems Technology

Security Classification




Activity type


Start date


End date



Big Data, Cyber Intelligence, Forensics, Misinformation, NWAnalysis, Social Media


The networks and technologies, including the cognitive layer (social, people and persona), that make up cyberspace have become critical to the way we interact with our world and each other. NATO and its personnel is no exception. Increasingly we use mobile phones and social media sites (from Twitter, LinkedIn to Pokémon Go) which make us susceptible to cyberattacks. While secure defence communications exist they rely on a combination of defence and civilian networks for routine and operational activities; this is true on all sides. As such, NATO, operationally, is also susceptible to those who seek to disrupt communications, gather intelligence, and spread misinformation through cyberattacks and propaganda. Research is being conducted on the technical vulnerabilities within cyberspace, however an emergent vector for attack is via social media. The social media arena provides a never before seen affordance: a. Attacks can occur on a global scale or target right down to an individual; b. Adversaries are able to attack from anywhere in the world; and, c. The amplification effect and speed of dissemination is staggering. This phenomenon poses many new challenges for military intelligence and operators, such as detection of attacks (misinformation, propaganda, fake news), operational security, effects of social engineering, as well as how to gather intelligence in this domain. Cyber activities via social media have been used by ISIS for recruiting and radicalization of western fighters and by Russia for propaganda prior to and during kinetic operations in Ukraine. NATO needs to understand this new threat, how to defend against it, and how to exploit intelligence gathered from cyberspace


1. Exploration of attack vectors and effects of cyberattacks at the cognitive layer; 2. Intelligence opportunities in this layer; 3. Defence options and techniques; 4. Operational effects and countermeasures; 5. Exploration of relevant technologies and tools. 6. Cyber ISR 7. Fake News Recognition 8. Combine SM exploitation and NW-Analysis


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