Eroding Trust in Government: What Games, Surveys, and Scenarios Reveal about Alternative Cyber Futures

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In the Future . . .

  1. Societies will be held hostage through cyberspace by states and non-state actors seeking to target the most vulnerable as part of larger political warfare campaigns waged online. In place of costly offensive cyber campaigns, malign actors will seek to undermine trust and confidence in government through disrupting basic needs and services such as food aid and medical assistance, creating an insidious new form of countervalue targeting.
  2. Gender dynamics will increasingly play a significant role in shaping perceptions of cyber threats, especially in the context of misinformation campaigns. The manipulation of gender-based differences through deepfakes and computational propaganda will exacerbate fault lines adversaries can use to further polarize society and undermine trust and confidence in governing institutions.
  3. Distrust in government will be further compounded as citizens struggle to understand cybersecurity strategy and the funding levels required to protect critical infrastructure. Governments will continue to face challenges in educating the public about evolving cyber threats and balancing the ways and means required to protect the ability to provide public goods online.
     

This report was made possible by support provided by Gray Space Strategies—as part of a larger research project they are conducting for Booz Allen Hamilton—and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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Yasir Atalan
Associate Data Fellow, Futures Lab, International Security Program
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Benjamin Jensen
Senior Fellow, Futures Lab, International Security Program