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The US presidential elections – Strategic Advisory

The 2020 US Presidential Elections and Their Aftermath May Lead into Increased Short-and Medium-Term Instability

Based on the ample evidence and documented in reports that have bipartisan support, Russia meddled with the US presidential elections back in 2016. In support of the meddling, Kremlin deployed many tools, such as human operators to court the Trump campaign and disinformation operations taking advantage of a wide array of platforms from the typical social media platforms and fabricated online sources to mainstream media. Kremlin also launched hack-and-leak operations targeting the Clinton campaign with the help of unwitting and witting accomplices such as Wikileaks. Russian security services have also been tied to scanning, probing, and at times successfully penetrating the electoral infrastructure stopping short of changing the votes or voter registration rolls.

Together with the results they provided, foreign power meddling efforts were to varying degrees invited, welcomed, amplified, and celebrated by the Trump campaign and people surrounding it back in 2016. The Russian activities such as stolen emails leaked to the public received wide mainstream media attention together with the hype on social media platforms produced both by real members of the electorate, and trolls and bots alike.

All the above was mixed with overall long-term political polarization, pre-existing societal fractures, and erosion of trust in public institutions and traditional media among the general populace to create a toxic cocktail. The election results were also affected by the disenfranchisement of some voters, gerrymandering, and application of other tools of manipulating political realities such as active voter discouragement, suppression and disqualification. All these impacted the results of the election, which was, in the end, decided in a few key battle states by less than 80,000 votes.


As the 2020 US presidential elections are about to take place on November 3, there is little evidence suggesting that the foreign powers would have lost their interest in the United States’ electoral process. While it is perfectly normal to expect foreign powers to collect swaths of information regarding the elections, incumbents together with their campaigns, and electoral processes to support their intelligence assessments regarding the possible outcomes of the elections and the policies that will follow with the newly elected administration, the meddling with the process and its outcomes is not acceptable.

According to public assessments, the number of potential sources for foreign influence operation has grown to include, in addition to Russia, also China and Iran. Nevertheless, it appears that the most dangerous player with pre-existing and battle-tested capabilities, not to forget a strong political motivation, is Russia. Though, it should not be assumed that the Russian active measures campaign would be solely concentrated to meddle only with the ongoing elections process and its outcomes, nor should it be assumed that it will follow the exact patterns and playbook used during the 2016 elections.

It is very tempting for Russia to meddle with the upcoming elections in a way, which increases the likelihood of contested election results, diminished trust in the results, distrust in democratic processes and institutions among the electorate, and increased political polarization having the potential to lead to violence. Meddling can also target the US government’s internal cohesion, for example, by intentionally attempting to erode the credibility of the intelligence community, their dedication to strict nonpartisanship, and their usefulness in the eyes of the decisionmakers. Once again, Russian operations would not have to invent or create anything new, but to utilize the existing societal wounds and grudges, openly expressed sentiments by the political leaders, and concentrate on fanning the already existing flames.

It is within Russian interests to have the White House under Trump’s rule and the Senate in the GOP hands. In any case, it serves Russia’s interests that the White House and the congress are not governed by the same party, and particularly not by the Democrats. Thus, it is not far-fetched to assume that Russians are having vested interest in Senate races, particularly in the key swing states, in addition to meddling with the Presidential Elections.

Not in conflict with the assessment above, it is worth noting that Russia’s interests lie not only with a particular candidate, party, or other actors. They try to utilize and manipulate the current circumstances for their benefit to cause the maximum amount of division among the populace and overall chaos and political turmoil to distract the United States and lessen the US influence in global affairs. Looking from the Kremlin perspective, a political crisis in the still leading liberal democracy in the world would allow Kremlin to show to their domestic audiences the turmoil as a confirmation of the Kremlin’s portrayal of Western democracies. The portrayal suggests Western democracies in decline and democratic processes as a sham leading to societal instability. Furthermore, at times, outsized Western attention to Russian meddling bolsters Russia’s superpower status, at least in the Russian political technologists’ minds.

Prolonged instability in the US, particularly under continued Trump rule, would also serve Kremlin’s hand by putting a further strain on transatlantic relations between the European Union and the United States. Similar kinds of strained relationships would be expected between the US and other key allies that do not share the populist zero-sum agenda. Weakened Western alliances and relationships would open Kremlin possible avenues to continue their destabilizing agenda in their near abroad. For example, it could put countries such as Ukraine under threat of increased intensity of hostilities. Similar developments and opportunistic destabilizing activities may also be expected in the near surroundings of other current world order challenging powers, like China.

It is also important to acknowledge that any efforts to meddle with the elections now face increased resistance. Many actions and initiatives have been taken to diminish particularly foreign interference with the elections. The US government agencies have communicated their findings, the perpetrators have been named, shamed, and sanctioned, and non-governmental organizations and commercial entities have launched initiatives to uncover and stop the influence operations. In addition, researchers and private citizens have increased the overall understanding of the mechanisms in play behind the influence operations. Nevertheless, many of the activities are inherently reactive and post-factum in their nature. Thus, while some of the impact of influence operations may be mitigated, it is fair to assume that the impacts cannot be removed or avoided entirely.


As we wrote last year, cyber operations and the spreading of disinformation are potent vehicles against the companies. Further still, they may take advantage of companies and their employees in pursuit of political goals. The perpetrators may take advantage of companies’ position in society or their services, such as communications platforms, to achieve their primary goals. The perpetrators may also be utilizing companies and their market positions as a tool to disrupt the markets where companies operate. In this context, it is good to note that the perpetrators threatening companies may include, in addition to hostile foreign powers and other parties, also domestic parties seeking political gains and advancement of their political agenda.

Like in the case of candidates, their political parties, and campaign organizations, the perpetrators could weaponize real or fake information about companies’ activities, or companies having known linkages to questionable parties, or parties framed as such, to reach their main goals. Weaponized information could be released on a range of media platforms targeting the selected audiences by using a combination of social media posts, alternative media platforms, fabricated outlets, and traditional media.  Weaponized information tied to a relevant context, such as ongoing elections, ensuring the media interest could be primed to frame companies’ and the associated parties’ activities in an unwanted context or appear unethical or against the target audiences’ norms and goals. In addition to companies, also singled out employees could be utilized for this purpose. All this could impact companies’ reputation, market standing, and their ability to conduct business negatively, even though companies were never a prime target but were just used as a tool to support the perpetrator’s conduct of political warfare.

Therefore, it is worthwhile for the companies to understand how influence and disinformation operations work and some of the tactics and tools that are used. Moreover, it is crucial to map out as a part of the threats and risks identification process how the company may end up being tangled in such operations either as a target or as collateral damage. Additionally, how the risk can be mitigated and what the potential response mechanisms are, should that risk realize, should be covered. All the above holds true particularly, if a company has got, for example, political weight due to its sheer size, offers critical backend or front-end services relevant to the political parties, their campaigns or the overall elections process, runs popular mass-market services, serves as a media platform, or partners somehow with the key targets, for example by offering communications or analytical services.

In addition to the direct targeting, the potential and rather probable political turmoil in the United States following the upcoming elections should be high in the company risk assessments for the coming years. Any prolonged political fighting between the various fragments of the society ranging from the level experienced during the past years to rather improbable serious armed clashes around the country would all have adverse ripple effects impacting the global business environment. Furthermore, such developments, particularly those in the most violent end of the spectrum, would force the United States to divert their attention and powers increasingly to domestic matters. This, in turn, would further encourage the authoritarian states to act and utilize their increased maneuver space to work against the interests of the liberal world and thus would further destabilize the geopolitical situation and global markets alike.


Cyberwatch Finland Q2 magazine – A Passion for a Cyber Safe World

Q2 ended a few days ago in slightly windy conditions, various storm warnings have also been issued for the summer and we are following the development with interest.

Knowledge, education, digital sovereignty, leadership, the importance of digitalisation, Europe’s ability to meet the challenges of cyber security and the EU’s common goals were the main topics of discussion in the second quarter, and around these main themes we have built an interesting reading package for you.

“ While resilience has become a buzzword in Brussels in the aftermath of Covid-19, cybersecurity has not yet gained the prominence it deserves. Ideally, it would go hand-in-hand with the EU digital upskilling agenda, as an integral part of it ” wrote Henna Virkkunen and Aapo Cederberg in his editorial “ Digital independence means change in the way we think and operate at all levels. “

Thanks a Million to all the Amazing Authors!

These and many other topics are covered in our latest magazine: Why Skills Matter – The Future of the Cybersecurity Industry is Based on Skills, Knowledge and Education; Cyber Insurance; Biometric recognition is shaping our world towards mass surveillance; Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical National Information Infrastructure

Have a Good Read!

#CyberCatchFI Harri Sundvik, XXLSEC & Aapo Cederberg https://youtu.be/Gb0OgdUa6Nw

#CyberCatchFI Pasi Eronen & Aapo Cederberg Jeff Bezos case and Big Game Hunting https://youtu.be/YKQh8sJbf6c

#CyberCatchFI Timo Rinne & Kim Waltzer Country Analysis China https://youtu.be/DqPWidsPY2c

#CyberCatchFI Timo Rinne & Kim Waltzer Ransomware Kiristyshaittaohjelmat https://youtu.be/PANTeE4x9LI

#CyberCatchFI Timo Rinne & Kirsi Toppari – Talousrikollisuus siirtyy verkkoon https://youtu.be/_eRxh0eqnWc





We wish you a safe and happy summer time!

Cyberwatch Finland team

We’re on social media and we’d love you to give us a follow! You can catch us on LinkedIn and Twitter by using hashtags #cyberwatchFI #CyberCatchFI

Where we will fly after Covid 19?

Thank you for attending the webinar organized by the WUAVF Finland chapter on June 4 2020

World UAV Federation – Finnish Chapter  online drone seminar is ready to watch online. 

Expert guest speakers from FLIR Systems, Manna Drone Delivery, JUADA and World UAV Federation (WUAVF) give their insights and take questions from our viewers from around the world, and from our panel, Pertti Jalasvirta, Tero Vuorenmaa, Hannu Karvonen, Gokul Krishna Srinivasan and Stephen Sutton.

Fly to the future with us,

THE PROGRAM WAS

12.00-12.05 Opening Speech, Stephen Sutton, Vice President WUAVF – Finnish Chapter
12.05-12.25 Lecture 1. Jani Hirvinen, Vice Chairman at World UAV Federation, China
12.30-12.50 Lecture 2. Brett Kanda, UAS Business Development Manager
13.00-13.20 Lecture 3. Bobby Healy, CEO & Founder of Manna Drone Delivery
13.20-13.40 Lecture 4. Yasuhiro Senda, Executive Vice President of JUIDA

13.40-14.40 Panel Discussion

Thank You once again to all participants and fly safe!

Organization committee: Pertti Jalasvirta, Chairman,  Tero Vuorenmaa, Vice president, Stephen Sutton, Vice president, Gokul Srinivasan, member of the board and Hannu Karvonen, member of the board.

Finnish WUAVF Chapter

Wishing You enjoyable moments with our first magazine of the year!

Transforming the way we think, live and move
Spreading like a tsunami coronavirus has made huge changes in our operating environment and caused a lot of uncertainty, fears and concern. The importance of preparedness has been emphasized and global interdependencies have become clearer. There has been talk of digital leap for years, but with the crisis it became a faster task than expected, and for some, even as a surprise.
Policies are changing, but are they changing permanently or will we return to our old routines as soon as the crisis has subsided – even if the policies would have been changed for the better?

Is it so that our operating environment changes but we humans do not?

* Forecast of Cyber ​​Security 2020 * Submarine Communication Cables and Cyber Security Threats * Novel coronavirus and other complex threats require effective response, case Finland * The corona presents the importance of self-sufficiency * CASE: Sandworm * Cyber Security in Smart Cities

These and many other topics are covered in our latest magazine

https://issuu.com/home/published/cyberwatchfinland_q1_issuu

Have a good read and Stay Safe!

CYBER SECURITY NORDIC 2020

Cyber ​​Security Nordic – the most significant event of cyber security solutions in Northern Europe

7–8 October 2020 Messukeskus Helsinki FINLAND

Become a partner in Cyber Security Nordic

Get Inspired | Network | Meet Clients | Make Sales

Cyber ​​Security Nordic is an event where decision-makers in cyber security meet, network and learn. The event consists of top-notch presentations by leading specialists on the current issues withing the field of cyber security.

Cyber Security Nordic is marketed to specialists within the Baltic Sea area. It is already the leading event in Finland and our goal is to make it the most significant meeting point in North Europe.

Participation is made easy by offering a ready-made packages for the partners.

More information: https://cybersecuritynordic.messukeskus.com/

Contact to sarita.virta@messukeskus.com or kirsi@cyberwatchfinland.fi

Happy Valentine`s Day!

Few months ago we met at the first Helsinki Drone Congress and on Valentine´s Day it´s a pleasure to share these photos and videos with You!

We brought together a tremendous number of professionals to network and share experiences. Together we built a path to Finnish expertise, combining drone and cyber know-how and the Finnish UAV Chapter is now ready to leed it to the international market

Once again, we would like to warmly thank the sponsors of the event, our great speakers, and our knowledgeable guests.