Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me today and for furthering the discussion of cyber-enabled influence. My remarks today will further expand on my previous testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where I detailed the research Andrew Weisburd, J.M. Berger, and I published regarding Russian attempts to harm our democracy via social media influence. I’ll add further to this discussion and will also provide my perspective having worked on cyber-enabled influence operations and supporting programs for the U.S. government dating back to 2005. Having served in these Western counterterrorism programs, I believe there are many lessons we should learn from and not repeat in future efforts to fight and win America’s information wars.
1) How does Russian nation state influence via social media differ from other influence efforts on social media?
As I discussed on March 30, 2017, Russia, over the past three years, has conducted the most successful influence campaign in history using the Internet and more importantly social media to access and manipulate foreign audiences. Russia and other nation states are not the only influencers in social media. Profiteers pushing false or salacious stories for ad revenue, political campaigns running advertisements and satirists looking for laughs also seek to influence audiences during elections, but their online behavior manifests differently from that of Russia. Russia’s hacking may be covert, but their employment of kompromat ultimately reveals their overt influence campaigns. Furthermore, Russian influence performs a full range of actions to achieve their objectives that distinguish them from other influence efforts.