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Soft cyberwar. Hacking and fake news: A threat to democracy and the international order?

Keynote address by former President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Why go to war with any liberal democracy if you can manipulate their elections to achieve your goals? In a follow-up to the 2017 Munich Security Conference, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia 2006-2016, discusses the threat posed by 'soft' cyberwar. Tactics such as hacking and 'fake news' threaten both international relations and domestic democratic processes. The global security community has until now mostly focused on preventing cyberattacks on networks and infrastructure. But the recent US election meddling, attributed to the Russian government, has focused attention on manipulating the fears and beliefs of the general public, influencing voters through the use of their own basic freedoms such as a free press. This threat is also asymmetric: liberal democracies can’t manipulate elections in countries where elections don’t matter. The threat is not just at home, but also one of international order.

The discussion with Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Ben Scott of the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung and MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger picks up on the agenda points and conclusions of the Munich Security Conference 2017 which took place from February 17 to 19, 2017.