In cyber warfare, psychological operations refer to the use of cyber technology and the internet to plan maneuvers that convey designated information and indicators to foreign audiences with the intention to sway their emotions, independent reasoning and motives (Wilson 3). In the long run, the intent is to reach out and influence individuals, groups, organizations as well as governments. Psychological operations induce or reinforce specific behaviors and attitudes to suits the originator’s objectives. It is part of an information operation warfare as a core capability. Cyber operations are now being integrated with the traditional psychological operations such as the use of leaflets and loudspeakers to convey the intended information to the targeted audience right into the local populations and homes.
The cyber elements used in the psychological operations are mainly in the form of fake news. They are propagated privately and quietly, and thus they invade not only the cell phones and computers but also the psychological well-being of the target audience. A case of its applicability is well demonstrated by the Lebanese-Israeli conflicts. Local citizens are victims of intense propaganda and counterpropaganda campaigns that seek to maintain public and international support. For instance, a special software called ‘megaphone’ is used to alert Jewish students to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls. Accordingly, the students attempt to influence the course of debates or any opinion survey by marshaling friends and supporters to take part. This also provides an avenue where groups from the US and Europe can place supportive messages.
The stakeholders in such a cyberwarfare psychological operations include the targeted locals both Israeli and Lebanese, their respective governments and the international network groups. The three categories form the central stakeholders that will be discussed further.
The technical problem in the above-noted psychological operation case is the use of a cyber tool. The cyberwarfare is perpetrated mostly by governments against either terrorist’s groups or their adversaries. It reveals that future wars will be based on civil-military, personal and deception through the use of fake news. These approaches will be performed and managed by cyber elements. One way to look at it is through the originator’s view. The perpetrators employing psychological operation are always pragmatic and believe in scientific ways of making decisions. It can, therefore, be argued that they are driven by utilitarianism that their intention seeks to make an impact on the greatest number of people for a justifiable course. The Israeli government may employ the ‘megaphone’ software with the ultimate aim of maintaining peace over the region.
The other perspective can be looked at from the local’s view. First, the designated information is intended to influence their emotions, objective reasoning and motives. Should they know that they are targeted with such tools, they will contemplate on the consequences that come with that. Consequentialism theory can be used to explain what their reaction would be. The local’s expectations are that the best situations be arrived at irrespective of the approach that is used. Peace and mutual coexistence are the expectations between the rival factions. Therefore, the best course of action, even if it entails the use of psychological operations would be approved by them.
In the confrontation between the Israeli and the Lebanese, regional peace and stability is often compromised. It becomes a concern of the international network groups too such as the US and the European countries. Their interest perhaps is to see a better outcome from the present situation. The egalitarian ethical view notes that one outcome will be better off than another if the situation is improved. In this case, the use of psychological operations although it influences objective reasoning and motives, it pursues to improve the status from worst situations. This becomes the case even if the wellbeing of the locals or happiness does not change.
In consideration of all the stakeholders, psychological operations is a cyberwarfare that continues to pick momentum. This means originators of the cyber tools may initiate new and varied techniques to achieve their objectives. Nonetheless, it is advisable that everyone be on guard to counter the unexpected. Besides, if the originators use it for the common good on the greatest number of people, then it would be in the interest of everyone that it is applied. Even though manipulative, the situation would be better off if improved than worsened. Otherwise, if the cyber tool and operation are used by the wrong people and for worst intentions, then it only serves the originator’s self-interest. In such cases, it should be fiercely opposed and countermeasures put in place to counter any such attempts.Tags: cyber aggression, cyber bulling