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Alexander Urbelis

Alexander Urbelis is a co-host of Off The Hook, a frequent writer for CNN Opinion, an attorney and partner of the Blackstone Law Group in New York, creator of a unique DNS intelligence platform used to detect early stage indicators of malicious activity, and was also recently the acting CISO of the NFL. Alex has a degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, from Stony Brook University, a JD, magna cum laude, from Vermont Law School, and the BCL from New College, Oxford University.


Talks

iWar and Information Warfare, the Next Phase of Internet Motility: Manipulation Inherent to the Internet's DNA

Information warfare, disinformation, and propaganda have persisted since the beginning of recorded history. Much like many of the world's oldest professions (espionage and sex work), information warfare has come under a variety of names and agendas. And much like espionage and sex work, information warfare remains alive and well in the present day.

From the old world where we have Asurbanipal's clay tablets relating elaborate tales of "glorious" military victories to Bernays's ushering in the modern era dominated by 20th century multi-modal propaganda campaigns, this talk will delve into a history of the sordid concept known as infowar. The panel will examine the pre-history of disinformation, iWar, misinformation and propaganda, all through both an historical and technical lens. They will address the advent of the printing press, moving swiftly to Wordpress and the Dark Net.

With respect to our present predicament in 2020, rather than clay tablets and cuneiform, we have dysfunctional social media systems, broken identity management concepts, multi-national troll farms, and a profusion of Internet-connected systems, all of which adversaries with malicious intent routinely manipulate. The concept of the Internet being used as an information warfare domain was not a twinkle in the eyes of inventors of the packet switched system that became known as ARPANET. The Internet was designed for functionality, not security, and therefore remains insecure. Trust and the integrity of information is still an issue 60 some years after the first proof of concepts reared their head at the RAND corporation.

This talk will address the challenges surrounding information warfare management, the intersection of infowar and iWar, as well as methods for identifying and inoculating against the strategies and tactics of 21st century iWar/PSYWAR operators. It will reference recent examples of state-sponsored activities, Coronavirus-related activity in the DNS, and will look ahead to the 2020 election and beyond.