Dr. Stockton on ‘Defeating Coercive Information Operations in Future Crises’

Dr. Paul Stockton’s latest report for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), “Defeating Coercive Information Operations in Future Crises,” provides an assessment of U.S. vulnerabilities to Chinese and Russian coercive Information Operations (IO) and proposes options for defeating and deterring attacks.


For thousands of years, combatants have spread falsehoods to help achieve victory. Many of their efforts failed or backfired. However, with the rise of social media and sophisticated technologies to exploit it, attackers have potent new means of conducting information operations (IOs) to shape their victims’ perceptions and coerce them to yield in future crises. The IO campaigns that Beijing and Moscow are conducting today against the United States provide a starting point for assessing potential US vulnerabilities to coercion. Deepfake technologies, techniques for manipulating social media algorithms, and other tools used to influence our elections can all be repurposed to shape American perceptions in regional crises. Ongoing Chinese and Russian efforts to weaken public confidence in the integrity of US leaders and institutions (including IOs to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic) also help prepare the cognitive battlefield for future coercive campaigns.


Dr. Stockton is a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and previously served as head of our own Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS.) Please visit the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) to view Dr. Stockton’s past publications as well as general documents on Disinformation and Cyber Crime & National Security.

Please note: An HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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Note: you may need to login to the HSDL to view some resources mentioned in the blog.

Need help finding something?  Ask our librarians for assistance!

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