International research team focuses to combat disinformation attacks in cyberspace

ADELPHI, Md. U.S. Army researchers are teaming with scientist in Chernihiv, Ukraine to initiate a global science and technology research program to understand and ultimately combat disinformation attacks in cyberspace.

Scientists from the Bulgarian Defense Institute in Sophia, Bulgaria; the Chernihiv National University of Technology in Chernihiv, Ukraine; and the National Technical University of Ukraine "Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic" in Kyiv, Ukraine joined ARL researchers at the kickoff meeting of the Cyber Rapid Analysis for Defense Awareness of Real-time Situation () project.

NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Program funds Bulgaria and Ukrainian participation. The program promotes dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO member states and non-NATO partner nations - in this case Ukraine -- based on scientific research, technological innovation, and knowledge exchange.

The team will develop theoretical foundations, methods, as well as approaches towards software tools for situational awareness. The work, which spans over the next three years, will enable forces to monitor and give a timely notification of an information attack, says Dr. Alexander Kott, ARL chief scientist, who attended the meeting together with ARL's Dr. Brian Rivera, the chief of the Network Science Division. They'll also help create conditions necessary for decision making about prevention or timely response to adversarial disinformation injections or manipulations. Especially important in meeting these objectives will be the real world experiences pertaining to actual disinformation attacks directed against Ukraine.

"Information attacks have emerged as a major concern of societies worldwide. They come under different names and in different flavors — , disinformation, political astroturfing, influence operations, etc. And they may arrive as a component of hybrid warfare — in combination with traditional (use of ), and with conventional military action or covert physical attacks. A particularly poignant example of a victim of such attacks has been Ukraine," Kott says.

ARL scientists bring to this project a number of critical scientific elements, he says, which include published research results — theories and algorithms — that explain and predict propagation of opinions and trust within a network, find untrustworthy sources within cyberspace, and detect false news. Much of these were developed in the context of ARL's extensive Network Science research in alliance with multiple academic institutions, and will help jump-start CyRADARS.

"ARL also operates a unique Open Campus business model. It enables scientists from both USA and other countries to conduct collaborative research at ARL. Within the context of CyRADARS, students and faculty from Ukraine and Bulgaria will be able to come to ARL and use ARL's Open Campus facilities and test beds while working on joint projects with ARL scientists," Kott adds.

The research efforts will take place at all four institutions in a virtual, distributed networked laboratory that the project will create.

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