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14 - 15 June, 2017 | London, UK

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The Intoxication of the ‘Art of the Hack’

"Information Operations seeks to master the enemy’s operating space; to limit their ability to act, move and communicate. On the internet, hackers hold a wealth of expertise and experience – yet we have failed to lever them effectively..." Why do hackers hack? Consideration of the psychological and social motivations behind this activity leads us to discover a desire to compensate for an inability to effect change in the ‘real’ world. Alicia Kearns, Director of Global Influence, breaks down the research as part of Defence IQ’s Countering Violent Extremism series.

Conflict in the Information Environment

In this presentation from the 2016 forum Gregory Radabaugh, SES Director, Joint Information Operations Warfare Center, analysised the advancements US joint IO enterprise has made in the face of countering violent extremism - policy, investment and the use of influence during peacetime. 

UK government ‘excluding conservative groups’ from counter-extremism work

According to one of the country’s loudest voices in the P/CVE arena, the government has recently shut the door on ‘conservative groups’ involved in the counter-extremist effort, particularly those with religion at their centre, in spite of the perceived importance of these groups and their ability to connect with at-risk communities at the grass roots level. Hanif Qadir, who has been keenly engaged with the Home Office and counter-extremist campaigns for over a decade, has decried an apparent reversal in strategy from the UK and other nations when it comes to funding and collaboration with these types of organisations. Read the full interview to understand the frustrations from the NGO perspective, along with his thoughts on how to solve these problems.

Interviews

Ukraine’s information security head discusses Russian propaganda tactics

May 2015
Dr. Valentyn Petrov, head of the Informational Security Service at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, explains to Defence IQ how social media has been used to directly influence kinetic operations in Eastern Ukraine, and how analysis has discovered three targeted information campaigns currently being employed by Russia to influence public opinion in Ukraine and abroad.

Information Warfare: The Key to Destroying ISIS

March 2015
Three crucial messages should guide America's fight against ISIS, reports national security expert James P. Farwell. As battles wage in the Middle East, are governments investing as much in information as they are in kinetic operations? Countering extremist propaganda through targeted digital outreach and social media activity are key themes at this year's Countering Violent Extremism conference, with briefings from government and military strategic communications specialists.

Articles

US State Department’s viral videos make mockery of terrorists

The internet, once the wheat field of extremist recruiters, has been witness to a dedicated initiative by White House strategists to torch and salt the earth for anyone trying to harvest a genuine threat to national security. The United States Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was established by the Executive Branch of the State Department in 2011 to counter the message of online fanatics using many of the same digital tools that were once being used to twist idea into ideology and influencing impressionable internet users to join a radical cause...

Hitting ISIL where it hurts

April 2015
The functional and institutional nature of hybrid terrorist groups reveals one of the key ways in which we can understand the changing dynamic of current state threats. The closest analogy that may help us understand the success of these violent groups is that of functional state regionalism. These violent social groups form arguably for the same purpose – a retreat from globalisation and cultural/ideological respite. They are a social construct designed to help states define and safeguard identity. Using regionalism theory may help to understand the nature of these violent social movements. State centric theory cannot account for their behaviour as they transcend statism by their cross border viability and apparent immunity from conventional state response. Candyce Kelshall looks at the evidence.

The new verbal battlespace where 'weaponised words' and information operations meet

Defence IQ interviews Verbalisation, a consultancy designed to help people amplify their messaging and create communications strategies using behavioural science. Founder Sven Hughes and David Stanhope, head of the company’s Conflict, Security and Justice arm, discuss the use of information or psychological operations (PSYOP) in the rapidly changing security environment and how it can be used to help affect behavioural change without having to resort to kinetic military operations...

Exclusive Content

Sticks and Stones: Can the right message hurt Daesh?

Defence IQ have just released a 3-part eBook on countering violent extremism, which takes an in-depth look at Daesh's social media efforts, the challenges of countering extremist messaging using positive counter narratives, and engaging with influencers to support the messaging efforts.

Has a strategic communications campaign toppled the Lord’s Resistance Army?

March 2015
Richard de Silva investigates whether words have beaten the warlords and why it remains important to close the book on Joseph Kony…
Rumours abound that one of Africa’s most infamous terror groups may be on the cusp of falling apart, owing to the disintegration of its leadership. The militant group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) first sprang up in Uganda in the late 1980s and over the ensuing years moved its operations into the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In spite of its long reign of terror – having been responsible for countless incidents of murder, torture, mutilation, rape and abduction – there is now reason to believe that the group’s time is nearing an end following the capture and possible death of two more senior leaders. If the death is confirmed, only the LRA’s top commander would remain on the list of truly significant targets on the leadership chain – one Joseph Kony...

Influencing the Influencers: Countering extremism with the people who matter

In our recent article on positive counter-messaging, we heard from several experts in the CVE domain who advocate the need for narratives to be communicated from within vulnerable communities, led by the real influencers. However, finding these influencers is just one challenge – bringing them onboard to support and implement a message requires a the right tools, the right techniques, and a level of finesse known only to those with a seasoned understanding of this arena.

Lieutenant Colonel John Wishart, J39 CA Planner, Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA), will be providing a briefing at the conference on utilizing communication specialists in support of peacekeeping and humanitarian activities, bringing his lessons from countering Boko Haram in Nigeria. Before the event, he spoke with Defence IQ’s Richard de Silva on how to influence the influencers…

Explaining the "narrative" in Information Operations

Two areas in the study of Information Operations (IO) which have generated a substantial literature in the last few years are those concerning the subject of ‘narrative’ and those which looks at developments in the global information environment. Roy Revie, a Phd candidate exploring the information and communication aspects of contemporary conflict, tells Defence IQ how he is interpreting 'successful' strategic narrative in today's military IO domain.

Positive counter-messaging: Can we do it alone?

While air strikes took their toll on Daesh strongholds and supplies at the start of the year, the ‘virtual battle’ – that of winning support and influence through media communication – continued to prove more difficult to swing. Here, Defence IQ explores the issue of creating effective and positive counter-narratives and alternative narratives in the effort to combat extremism. With exclusive insight from the government, military and NGO experts in the UK and U.S., this article kicks off the Roundtable Discussion on Day One of Countering Violent Extremism 2016. Find out what our speakers from the UK Foreign Office, Quilliam Foundation, and U.S. Special Forces had to say ahead of the event...

A Brief History of Daesh Media Propaganda

Daesh media propaganda has been, to quote FBI Director James Comey, “unusually slick”, seeing operation in over 20 languages, seizing on digital engagement lessons from commercial and government lessons, and remaining persistent with their output. Realms of engagement – especially when it comes to targeting Western audiences – seem to know no bounds, from multiple e-magazines and photo reports to infographics and memes. The Jihad has even gone mobile, with the establishment of an IS Android app (Amaq News), a Twitter bot (Dawn of Glad Tidings) and its own invite-only social media network (Khelafabook). Read more about the group's sophisticated information campaigns and view the timeline for the most notable events...

Exclusive Content

UK government ‘excluding conservative groups’ from counter-extremism work

According to one of the country’s loudest voices in the P/CVE arena, the government has recently shut the door on ‘conservative groups’ involved in the counter-extremist effort, particularly those with religion at their centre, in spite of the perceived importance of these groups and their ability to connect with at-risk communities at the grass roots level. Hanif Qadir, who has been keenly engaged with the Home Office and counter-extremist campaigns for over a decade, has decried an apparent reversal in strategy from the UK and other nations when it comes to funding and collaboration with these types of organisations. Read the full interview to understand the frustrations from the NGO perspective, along with his thoughts on how to solve these problems.