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Amplifying Influence via Strategic Misdirection
The swords of digital warfare are ambiguity and illusion. Through clever deception, narratives of non-existent threats are woven, cloaking reality with shadows of false intentions.
Utilizing deception as a strategy involves confusing or manipulating a target adversary to act against their own self-interest via the clever usage of distorted, false, or manipulated information. When in the realm of digital warfare, such deceit tactics are absolutely critical to enhance the efficacy of psychological operations, or psyops.
In order to understand the concept of deception, you must be able to discern the difference between active and passive forms of deception. All digital deception tactics employed take one or the other form.
Passive deception encompasses strategies that cleverly hide any actual strategies and digital firepower. By masking real positions or intentions, adversaries stay uninformed and misguided.
Active deception, on the other hand, involves proactively creating a digital facade to demonstrate or posture about capacities and intentions that are indeed lacking or simply do not even exist. By creating a digital facade, the enemy may react to a non-existent threat.
Specificity of deception revolves around how explicit or targeted the deceptive strategy is. It can be direct and precise, aiming to mislead the target about a specific aspect or it can be more broad-brushed, designed to create overall confusion.
The specific type of deception is a critical point.
Psyops can be devised to take aim at either increasing ambiguity (A-type deception) or by misleading (M-type deception) the target. By cleverly combining A-Type (ambiguity increasing) and M-Type (misleading) deceptions, the synergy can create larger layered strategies of deception; thus increasing the overall effectiveness of the deception operation.
For example, in digital warfare, we may first deploy an A-type deception to flood the target adversary's cybersecurity system with a massive amount of red-flag alerts. Red-flag alerts create confusion and become a distraction by increasing the noise level in their systems.
While in the midst of the ensuing chaos, we may then deploy an M-type deception. By planting evidence suggesting a major cyberattack is incoming from a completely fabricated source, the distraction caused by the A-type deception may easily confuse the adversary into believing the misleading information and thus cause them to divert their attention and resources to it.
The noise generated by the A-type deception allows the M-type deception to take hold and overrun the adversary's attention and resources. While the adversary is distracted with the layered deception, the genuine attack may be a completely separate operation that targets a completely separate section of the adversary's defense.
In our example, psychological operation synergy between A-type deceptions and M-type deceptions enabled the genuine attack to effectively overrun the adversary's defenses and ensure a successful operation.
A real-life, historical, example of combined deception types was Operation Bodyguard which convinced Nazi leadership that the Allied invasion of Europe would take place at the Pas-de-Calais. By strategically utilizing multiple layers of deception types, the Allies tricked the Nazis into fortifying Pas-de-Calais and were able to successfully overrun the beaches at Normandy.
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