By Molly Doyle
On the 15th of July, the annual Air and Space Power Conference was held virtually. It aimed to deliver a challenging and thought-provoking debate by demonstrating a certain eagerness and awareness about the state of current military affairs. A focus of the debate was on the government initiative, ‘Information Advantage’(IA), and how there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way the government and businesses gather and process information. This article explains what Information Advantage is and why it is important in the development of UK national security.
Information is defined as “the imparting of knowledge”. It has dual importance in that, in one hand it provides an opportunity for growth (to learn and to respond appropriately to every situation), on the other, it is a weapon that is used to fight more battles than those occurring physically around us. We live in a digital age, highly influenced by exponential growth and connectivity, where we can access copious amounts of information in the palm of our hands. Consequently, even threats against humans have moved to a virtual platform – hacking. Arguably, hacking has become a larger threat to the public (and governments!) than physical attacks, with the most recent cyber-attack against Twitter being only one example in a thousand attacks against the use of social media.
Whilst there is no formal definition, ‘Information Advantage’ is commonly perceived as ‘The credible advantage gained through the continuous, adaptive and resilient employment of information and information systems’. To the UK, it is essentially the advantage we gain from flexible working information systems. There are four broad lenses to applying IA – Information as an enabler, Information resilience, Information denial and Information as an effecter. The first three, act as foundational elements providing the potential for IA, and ‘effecters’ facilitate the various actions that affect the target audience (enemy). In a nutshell, all four lenses allow for greater manoeuvrability and secure the UK’s information whilst deceiving the target’s understanding and capacity.
IA is vital to our Defence forces who are currently being outmanoeuvred in several key areas. In an age where an idea can spread faster than a natural virus, it is essential for the Department of Defence to understand the global reach of information and enhance its speed of adaptability accordingly. For effective defence, vital information must be gathered, processed, and used to formulate strategies, faster than the target’s capacity to be aware of the information you possess. David Patrikarakos said, “Central to the change in method is the idea that military operations can become a form of informational operation and seek political rather than specific military outcomes.” The UK needs to develop its IA to combat such ‘informational’ military attacks.
How is this useful in an interview?
‘Information Advantage’ is a highly important topic that very few people are aware of. Knowledge of this complex topic demonstrates to an interviewer, your commercial awareness and knowledge of a niche topic. Furthermore, the very concept of IA is the ability to process information; to a Law student, this is a great tool to keep track of developments in the commercial market. It also widens your scope of knowledge on the dangers of information being available online.