Britain and other western democracies are belatedly waking up to the threats posed by states such as Russia and China. Both countries use influence operations against adversaries, deploying tactics that fall short of traditional armed conflict in which the digital dimension is central. Hacking and leaking operations such as those conducted against the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 (and similar operations in France and Germany) are one example. Industrial cyber-espionage — theft of intellectual property — as carried out by China is another. None of these operations would be almost impossible without the anonymity, ubiquity and immediacy of the internet. Responding to the Russian and Chinese threats require a wide-ranging reassessment of the way democratic societies deal with questions of online identity, anonymity and information assurance.
Edward Lucas is a writer and consultant specialising in European and transatlantic security. His expertise also includes energy, cyber-security, espionage, information warfare and Russian foreign and security policy.
Formerly a senior editor at The Economist, the world’s foremost newsweekly, he is now a senior vice-president at the Center for European Policy Analysis. He writes a weekly column in the London Times. In 2008 he wrote The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, followed in 2011 by Deception, an investigative account of East-West espionage. His latest book is Cyberphobia. He has also contributed to books on religion and media ethics.
An experienced broadcaster, public speaker, moderator and panelist, Edward Lucas has given public lectures at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and other leading universities. He is a regular contributor to the BBC’s Today and Newsnight programmes, and to NPR, CNN and Sky News.