Online exploitation is a serious issue that faces many people, Sailors included. Geoff Tokajer explains how the Navy’s new program is used to protect them.
MCLEAN, VA / May 19, 2020 / Online exploitation is a problem that faces millions of people every year. Those who exploit others online tend to aim their attention towards vulnerable populations but that does not mean other groups are necessarily safe. In fact, thinking you are safe from such behavior can even make you more vulnerable as a result. Motives behind online exploitation can range from financial and proprietary theft to using the cyber domain as a launchpad for weapons of military warfare. In order to keep Sailors and families safe from these threats, the Navy has launched a program intended to educate Sailors and help them understand the threats lurking online that aim to exploit them. Tokajer, Geoffrey explains how this will be implemented in the years to come.
Geoff Tokajer on the Implementation of this New Naval Program
The new program, known as the Identity Management Program, is intended to educate Sailors and their families on the dangers they may face conducting seemingly routine business online. This program will create education and policy for Sailors regarding Internet activities and behaviors to enhance online awesomeness and proficiency, thereby reducing the risk of individual exploitation. Tokajer, Geoffrey explains training would follow in suit, with the primary goal being demonstrable proficiency that a Sailor is capable of keeping his or her personal information safe from bad actors. An Identity Management workforce will assist in facilitating the transformation of digital Navy culture as social media presence can put Sailors at risk. There is no turning back. “We are in the Information Age and the answer isn’t avoiding it, it’s understanding it to minimize risk”, Geoff Tokajer notes.
One of the first things that the program will need to do, Tokajer, Geoffrey points out, is to check out what programs and practices work now and which do not. Some programs and practices will be valuable for an extended period of time and thus do not need to be shaken up arbitrarily; however, many will inevitably be made obsolete or prove to have vulnerabilities that enemies of the United States can easily exploit. Once we are able to figure out what these are, Geoff Tokajer notes, we can then work on evolving or replacing them.
As it is, the Navy has specific social media best practices for sailors to employ that will help reduce potential vulnerabilities to be exploited, which is advice that generally anyone should employ, Tokajer, Geoffrey points out. Make sure that you know the people you are following and who are following you, as someone who you do not know maybe there to exploit vulnerabilities or steal personal information. A good way to mitigate the risk is also to simply be mindful of the information you share. The relevant handbook can be found here. Over the coming months, Tokajer, Geoffrey notes, the Navy will continue to add more training and policy changes.
Geoff Tokajer has served the Department of the Navy in many roles and capacities both in and out of uniform. As a U.S. Marine within combat arms, intelligence and military law, as a member of Naval Special Warfare Command within the United States Special Operations Command and in his current role leading a larger program to combat threats in the 21st Century warfare domain. Below, he sheds light on similarities between the US Navy’s early beginnings and the growth of its military might into the world’s most powerful maritime combat force.
For nearly three decades, Geoff Tokajer has served the U.S. military in a range of roles ranging from tactical operations, strategic planning and research, development, testing, evaluation and implementation of emerging technology in modern warfare tactics, techniques and procedures. He enlisted
in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 17 and has been involved in America’s security
and defense ever since.
Today, Tokajer continues to serve in the United States Department of Defense where he researches
human and machine behaviors like automated botnet actors threatening both our military readiness, our democracy and thus our national security. His studies have led him to new discoveries in developments in internet warfare and online security, among other critical topics. Below, he shares his passion for serving the United States Department of the Navy with a brief look into its earliest beginnings.
“The United States Navy and Marine Corps team is as old as the country itself with the first set of warships being put into action as far back as 1775 during the Revolutionary War,” says Geoff Tokajer.
In 1775, the British owned the sea around America which threatened to impact the colonies’ trade system as well as wage war on seaside settlements. In response, newly-formed states responded by commissioning small fleets to defend their settlements and the local waters. Congress was still on the fence about a navy at the time, however, as many believed the struggle with the British could be resolved without such force.
“Those early ideas of a United States Navy turned into the Continental Navy, which consisted of a small handful of ships that helped in the immediate struggles at sea,” says Geoff Tokajer. “However, it was quickly disbanded and the talk for an official Navy didn’t reach a major threshold again until the Naval Act of 1794 was signed into law by George Washington.”
Tokajer observes the online information domain as the metaphorical new “seas” of modern warfare requiring a shift in how we approach threats politically and militarily. “Today, we are in direct competition with our adversaries to dominate this new space, and build the “vessels” that will serve as the first heavy frigates patrolling 21st century digital waters. “Information can be just as powerful as weapons systems in the command and control structure”, says Tokajer. “Narrative wins sentiment, sentiment wins support and support wins the day.”
Today, the US Navy is the largest and most capable sea fleet in the entire world. Some estimates put its size and power larger than the next 13 navies combined. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage as well as serves as the world’s largest aircraft carrier fleet.
“The Navy has been a powerful resource in every major struggle our country has had, first on the sea, then on land, air and space”, says Geoff Tokajer. “It’s undoubtedly the most respected navy anywhere in the world and we will continue to adapt, lead and win the fight in any domain – current and emerging.”
Serving in the United States Department of Defense, Geoffrey Tokajer tackles concerns in social media information warfare where attacks from agencies across the globe are a persistent threat. Below, he helps readers understand how social media bots can disseminate harmful information that threatens our democracy.
Geoffrey Tokajer is a native of Long Island, New York and has spent nearly four decades serving the military in a range of capacities. Tokajer enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1992 at the age of 17 and crossed the parade deck at Parris Island as a United States Marine in 1993. Since then, he has served in a number of roles and capacities within combat arms, intelligence, and military law in support of Naval Special Warfare within the United States Special Operations Command.
Today, he holds a critical position in the United States Department of Defense where he focuses on protecting our country through research and development of social media information warfare. In his work, he unveils how malicious human and automated botnet actors in online operations are a threat to our democracy. Through these means, agents can fool people into propagating the harmful and often false information of the attacks, undermining efforts to uphold truth and justice online.
Geoffrey Tokajer‘s work in this area has helped the United States Special Operations Command and interagency communities synchronize learning, training and operational focus of Special Operations Forces, the Intelligence and Law Enforcement communities, private industries and academia. Ultimately, Tokajer helps the government understand how to develop and lead a workforce to leverage big data and open media sources toward National Security objectives.
One of the biggest threats to our democracy today, claims Geoffrey Tokajer, is social media manipulation, whether it’s performed through bots or human agents. An internet bot, he says, is an automated software application that executes commands online. They tend to be structurally repetitive and can be used for malicious means, such as spreading false information to the masses.
“Some social media bots can act as a poster or a follower through a fake account and can actually assimilate followers on its own page and produce messages,” says Geoffrey Tokajer. “They are used like spam bots to infiltrate circles and influence people with specific, targeted ideas.”
These bots are used online to influence politics, popular culture, and real people’s overall feelings towards one idea or another. Today, there are no strict legislation or regulations against social bots, and we’ve recently seen how they can have a hand in major decisions, such as the selection of the next President of the United States.
“We have to work diligently in the Department of Defense to combat this growing problem so we can ensure our people act only on their own ideals and beliefs instead of being influenced by outside forces using false and misleading means to corrupt,” says Geoffrey Tokajer. “It’s what we must do to ensure a true free democracy.”