'To paraphrase a famous quote, you might not be interested in information warfare, but information warfare is interested in you.'

MAJGEN Marcus Thompson AM, Head Information Warfare Division

In an increasingly interconnected world, we are all at risk from online manipulation.  A wide range of adversaries are looking to harvest the data we freely put online to conduct precision micro-targeting against us, allowing them to deliver messages that influence our perceptions, beliefs and behaviours.

In this episode of Cove Thoughts, we are joined by Dr Emily Bienvenue from DST, Dr Zac Rogers from Flinders University, Clint Watts from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, MAJGEN Marcus Thompson from Information Warfare Division and Siobhan Heanue from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to talk about cognitive warfare, online manipulation and measures we can take to protect ourselves, our families and the Army from online threats.

Key takeaways:

Using a military perspective, the podcast outlines how individual resilience consists of two key aspects designed to prevent an 'online ambush':

Part One consists of limiting the amount of information available to potential adversaries through conducting Proactive Protection.

- Think about the information you are sharing online

- Don't use the same passwords for multiple sites or platforms

- Turn off geolocation tags for photos

- Set your social media settings to private not public

- Make sure smart phones have the privacy setting set down

- Think carefully before connecting to public WiFi

For more details, read the Information Warfare Division's Field Guide to Online Security (available on the DPN only) 

Part Two consists of pressing the pause button when presented with information online and conducting Reactive Reflection.

Who is the author of the information?

- What is the intent behind the information / what is the author trying to achieve?

- Is the language factual or emotive?

- Does the post confirm what you already believe?

- Have you conducted your own quick fact check on it before reposting, commenting or forwarding it?

If in doubt, take a minute to conduct some Information Distancing.


Cognitive warfare is here to stay. Do you know how to protect yourself, and the Army, in the online environment? Because if you don't, you risk being manipulated without even knowing it.

'Social inception is the future. A hidden elite core will social-engineer an unwitting crowd into choosing the policies, politics and preferences of the hidden elite, all without the crowd's ever realizing it. Future social media influence will be dominated by those who aggregate and harness the collective preferences of audiences, deceiving the crowd into willingly selecting the core's agenda. If social media users believe that the core's agenda is their own preference, they'll wholeheartedly support an idea, a politician or an organization'. 

Clint Watts - Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News.