A new year brings new threats! In this episode of The Cybersecurity and Geopolitical Discussion, Ian Thornton-Trump, CD, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Cyjax, Lisa Forte, Partner at Red Goat Security and Philip Ingram, MBE, of Greyhare Media examine how some of the more compelling world events set to take place this year could impact global stability and security.

Ranging from election security in the U.S. and worldwide to updates on geopolitical conflicts in Israel, Palestine and Ukraine, among others, the trio of experts analyzes current events to extrapolate where security professionals should look next in terms of risk.

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The world at the polls

The next 12 months will see a number of elections across the globe, opening the door to the threat of disinformation and tampering, with the panel identifying the pivotal countries to watch. First off, Ingram and Forte consider the upcoming Russian vote, with the discussion taking an ominous tone as the pair reflect on Vladimir Putin’s past responses to critics of his regime. Can we expect more gravity related incidents in the run up to the polls opening in March?

India, the world’s largest democracy, will also invite its people to the polls in the spring. The country’s growing population and rising global importance is making it an increasingly sought-after strategic partner for many powerful states. However, the likely spread of disinformation by the country’s competing political parties could destabilize the process to a major degree. Forte cites the recent Brazilian election experience as a warning of what could transpire. Meanwhile, Ingram unveils the magnitude of the problem brought to light in recent research, placing the Indian elections in context and identifying a potential lynchpin in geopolitical relationships.

Changing conflicts

With war raging in key regions, the panel discusses how current conflicts might pan out over the coming year. What are the chances of the opposing factions on the Russia/Ukraine border continuing to grind forward with no significant or decisive outcome or reach a decisive conclusion? Whatever scenario materializes, the cost in Russian and Ukrainian lives is likely to accelerate. Forte contrasts the current stagnation of the physical war with recent success by hacktivist and Russian APT actors in attacking Ukraine and Western targets.

Addressing the continuing Hamas and Israel conflict, the panel discusses how long this is likely to persist in 2024 and reflects on how the war represents the latest broiling up of hostilities long established by western powers at the end of World War II. The big question is what effects will be felt across the region. One of the key players in this struggle is Iran, which the panel identifies as the patient protagonist, which is managing so far to be both “near to and far away” from the conflict. Wielding considerable cyber and military, para-military and insurgent forces in the region, should Iran’s machinations sound warning bells?

America decides

Of all 2024’s elections, the big U.S. vote is arguably the one that will attract the most global attention. The panel conducts a lively debate on the warning signs to look out for from both the cyber and geopolitical perspective. With many countries having a major interest in the outcome, the panel look at the likelihood of Russia and China taking sides to influence a favorable result. Ingram analyzes whether the Irish vote could be one of the more beneficial routes for successful Russia interference.

Meanwhile, the discussion moves on to consider the double-edged sword of motivating a turnout by leveraging divisive issues balanced against campaigns to demotivate through messages focusing on the futility of the election process. The final question of Trump’s candidacy and his viability as a president is then addressed. Are we in an era of “anything-can-happen” American politics? And what might this mean to the U.S. and beyond?

Tune in to find out all this and more!

More on Russia/Ukraine: As referred to in this episode, you can catch up on the tactical situation in the Russia/Ukraine conflict by listening to Phil’s personal podcast