Weaponised information systems for political disruption
Information systems continue to be used by actors who want to undermine public institutions and disrupt political systems. They have engaged in acts of cyberwarfare ranging from attempts to compromise voting systems, to spreading false propaganda, using dark networks to illicitly fund campaigns, and even direct attacks on public infrastructure via technologies. Initial analysis points to the fact that most of these attempts have been successful to some degree in achieving their intended objectives. Given this reality, we expect them to intensify and be more creative in the future. The authors take a critical look at the concept of weaponising information systems for political disruption. Their analysis focuses on two specific forms of information-systems-enabled disruption. The first is direct attacks on information systems infrastructures employed in various facets of political campaigns and election processes. The second is attacks that target public infrastructure and services, which impact trust in government and public institutions of the nation, thereby indirectly impacting political stability and governance regimes. The authors outline an Actor, Lever, Effects, and Response Taxonomy (ALERT) to understand the nuances associated with various types of options individuals, organisations, and nations have in weaponising information systems.