Hybrid threats are on the increase
Hybrid threats include military and non-military activities and are designed to destabilise adversaries, with the intent of influencing and/or manipulating the political decision-making process.
NATO describes hybrid threats as the ‘type of threat that combines conventional, irregular and asymmetric activities in time and space’. They can range from spreading fake news and propaganda, to cyber-attacks, terrorism and military ‘shows of strength’. Although they have long been practiced by states and antagonists, the exponential growth in digitalisation has increased the need to safeguard individuals and societies from hybrid threats.
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Identifying and validating the effectiveness of hybrid threat responses
As a NATO-accredited international military organisation – although not a part of the NATO Command Structure – StratCom wanted to increase its support for democratic states with a more conclusive way of identifying and validating the effectiveness of responses to hybrid threats, prior to taking any action. To do this, they enlisted 4C Strategies, who have extensive experience within risk management, countering disinformation, and minimising the risk of cyber-attacks, as well as planning and carrying out exercises within the military and non-military sectors.
“We combined our skill sets to create a risk management model that could be used to not only map hybrid risks and possible outcomes, but also incorporate the concept of barriers as risk mitigation measures for StratCom” says Jonatan Jürisoo, Partner and Senior Consultant at 4C Strategies. “The model was then stress-tested with typical hybrid risk scenarios.”
The hybrid threat model can be summarised as:
With the model, StratCom was given a common, structured methodology for mapping both potential and real threats. This not only promotes a better understanding of hybrid threat actions among states but also supports a better dialogue between stakeholders when combined actions are the best course of action.
“A risk is never a single incident, but rather a series of events that occur, with multiple outcomes. With this model and Exonaut as a supporting tool, you can easily plan for differing events and outcomes,” continues Jürisoo. “Establishing risk mitigating barriers in a structured way to lessen both the probability and consequences of hybrid threats is something that is at the core of our company mission: to build a safer society.”
4C’s partnership with NATO dates back to 2015, when the company began supporting the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) as software supplier for the Electronic Military Training and Exercise Programme (eMTEP). The Exonaut eMTEP solution was developed to enable NATO users to dynamically plan and schedule exercises and training activities in real-time through an online common interface. 4C consultants continue to work closely with NATO’s core user group to implement the eMTEP exercise management solution as needs evolve.