Rhizomatic Target Audiences of the Cyber Domain

Abstract:

Target Audience Analysis (TAA) is a process of finding suitable target audiences for psychological operations (PSYOPS). Typically, a TAA is a one-way process with some kind of a feedback system. The cyber domain presents a challenge to this type of sequential, linear process by refusing to stay still while the process is being executed, possibly leading to results from yesterday’s data in an environment that no longer exists today. Another challenge is that identifiable human beings—the traditional targets of PSYOPS—are not the only inhabitants of the cyber domain. Physical devices, nicknames, IP addresses, networks, and a vast amount of data populate this environment, in which there are no human beings, only their presentations and behavioural residue in a multitude of forms. The authors argue that while the psychological theories behind influence operations still form the basis for PSYOPS as a whole, a re-thinking of methods is necessary for the cyber domain. To conceptualize the cyber domain as a platform for influence operations, the authors suggest a five-layer structure based on Martin C. Libicki’s model. In each of these five layers, the target audiences are present in different forms. Thus, all information between humans is filtered through all of the layers with their own rules and causalities. In order to be successful in any influence attempt, one must understand and utilize the characteristics of each layer. The authors also propose that the rhizome theory is the most effective theoretical approach for understanding the complex interactions within the cyber domain.


AUTHORS

Image of Author Miika Sartonen

Finnish National Defence University 
Helsinki, Finland

Miika Sartonen is a researcher at the Finnish Defence Research Agency and a doctoral student at the National Defence University.

Image of Author Aki-Mauri Huhtinen

Finnish National Defence University
Helsinki, Finland

Dr. Aki-Mauri Huhtinen, (LTC [GS]) is a military professor in the Department of Leadership and Military Pedagogy at the Finnish National Defence University, Helsinki, Finland. His areas of expertise are military leadership, command and control, the philosophy of science in military organisational research, and the philosophy of war. He has published peer-reviewed journal articles, a book chapter, and books on information warfare and non-kinetic influence in the battle space. He has also organised and led several research and development projects in the Finnish Defence Forces from 2005 to 2015.

 

Photo of Dr. Martti Lehto

University of Jyväskylä 
Jyväskylä, Finland

Dr. Martti Lehto (Col., retired) works as a cyber security and cyber defence professor of practice in the Department of Mathematical Information Technology at the University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland. He has more than 30 years of experience as a developer and
leader  of  C4ISR  Systems  in  the  Finnish  Defence Forces. He has more than 75 publications, research reports and articles on the areas of C4ISR systems, cyber security and defence, information warfare, air power, and defence policy.
 

 

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