Digital Threat Digest Insights Careers Let's talk

Accelerate to failure - Digital Threat Digest

PGI’s Digital Investigations Team brings you the Digital Threat Digest, SOCMINT and OSINT insights into disinformation, influence operations, and online harms.

Double circle designs part45

In a recent article, Le Monde outlined how Moldovan individuals with links to Russian pseudo-media outlets are reportedly responsible for the Star of David graffiti that has been cropping up in Paris, amid the war in Gaza.

The newspaper alleges that Doppelganger—which has been linked to influence operations and inauthentic behavior all across Europe—has direct links with the individuals who planted the graffiti. The article heavily focused on the rise of anti-Semitic behavior in France, and highlighted the failure of French institutions to protect their own citizens.

The accusation, which still needs to be proved in court, is an interesting one. It would indicate that threat actors are increasingly embracing the 'accelerate to failure' approach. Accelerating failure is commonly used in business and mechanics to test the resilience of a system and identify its pressure points. In information environments, it means you take the meta leap. You do not just exploit a crisis for your own benefit, with the very real fallout of real world harm. You just go ahead and fabricate the real world harm yourself, to then exploit it to your advantage. The meta-approach of the affair has a vintage flavor, reminiscent of Cold War espionage tactics.

This is good and bad news. It signals that despite all the different ways threat actors can manipulate and take advantage of online spaces and information environments, sometimes that is clearly not enough. Doppelganger clone and duplicates established media sources throughout the continent, spreading propaganda on the European Union and the war in Ukraine. With the war in Gaza, social media platforms have been rife with misattributed footage and conspiracy theories. So why not just keep going down that avenue? Why accelerate the failure? It is more resource-intensive. And, as the French case has shown, individuals are easier to crack than domains. The only logical answer is that maybe it simply was not enough. At the same time, the meta aspect of accelerating failure means that threat actors are no longer testing the resilience of our information environments first and our societies later, but primarily of our societies.

This is in no way a novel threat and it represents a much more expensive approach to influence operations, making its proliferation unlikely. However, it does signal that behaviors tend to repeat themselves and that, sometimes, a couple of stencils and spray cans go further in fueling social strife than an aesthetically authentic pseudo-media outlet.

More about Protection Group International's Digital Investigations

Our Digital Investigations Analysts combine modern exploitative technology with deep human analytical expertise that covers the social media platforms themselves and the behaviours and the intents of those who use them. Our experienced analyst team have a deep understanding of how various threat groups use social media and follow a three-pronged approach focused on content, behaviour and infrastructure to assess and substantiate threat landscapes.

Disclaimer: Protection Group International does not endorse any of the linked content.