GAO Identifies Data Environment as Emerging Battlefield in National Security

US adversaries and competitors are exploiting social media, information technology and other elements of the information environment to undermine the country’s national security capabilities, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The government watchdog agency conducted a study on how the Department of Defense uses the information environment and its strategies to enhance cognitive security.

GAO data came from questionnaires given to 25 DOD agencies, interviews with department officials and subject matter experts, and reviews of 35 policy and strategy documents from the department and other federal agencies.

Results showed that the DOD’s most important deficiencies in protecting the information environment are in personnel, training, funding, organization and new technologies.

Respondents identified artificial intelligence and machine learning, bots, quantum computing, social media platforms as emerging tools that could be used as either a shield or a threat to the DoD’s missions.

The office recognized the Pentagon’s efforts to refine the concept of information in defense operations. Aside from its ongoing revision of doctrine publications, the DOD must boost organization and training in defense against social engineering, the report noted.

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