Ten Technologies to Stop Grey Zone Attacks
The report breaks grey zone attacks down into five categories:
- Deniable attacks: A cyber attack on utilities or drones attacking an airport
- Information attacks: Foreign election interference or false text message/email scams
- User of proxy force: Terrorist attacks on cities or infrastructure
- Economic coercion: An adversary purchasing and disabling a piece of infrastructure such as an oil refinery
- Territorial encroachment: Seizing a fishing lane or sovereign territory
It also describes 10 technology areas that QinetiQ sees as being crucial to helping the West counter grey zone tactics.
Mike says: “Grey zone tactics are today’s reality and the West and its allies have no option but to adapt. Emerging and existing technologies hold the key to achieving competitive advantage when countering grey zone attacks. Simply doing what we’ve always done is neither recommended nor possible. Instead, we must embrace a more scientific and technology-focused approach to defense and security.”
The technologies highlighted in the report are:
- AI, analytics and advanced computing – By drawing and fusing data from multiple sources, AI can deduce enemy locations and even model predicted behaviors to reduce the covert nature of enemy attacks.
- Cyber and electromagnetic activities – The cyber domain is a vital front in grey zone competition, with a lot of experts debating the topic. Less discussed is the vulnerability of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Novel weapons, systems and effects – there are a wide range of alternatives to kinetic weapons, but in the context of the grey zone, directed energy is the most relevant. It can achieve conventional mission objectives covertly and deniably. For example, a ship could expend millions of dollars’ worth of munitions defending against a swarm of cheap, explosive-laden quad-copters, or a small fleet of rigid inflatable boats. Alternatively, a laser weapon could neutralize them at what is reported to be the cost of a dollar per shot.
- Power sources, energy storage and distribution – Some scenarios require highly specialized energy storage and power delivery systems, as opposed to relying on grid energy.
- Robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) – in the grey zone, RAS could harness the collective power of multiple systems to provide more granular situational awareness, as well as helping to expand a user’s sphere of influence.
- Secure communications and navigation – Communication lies at the heart of all grey zone operations. Moving information around is fundamental to building an intelligence on which to base strategic decision-making.
- Sensing, processing and data fusion – The key to grey zone advantage is awareness. Advances in sensor technology are creating new opportunities to gather that data from the physical world
- Advanced materials and manufacturing – The grey zone’s rapidly shifting nature means new capabilities must often be fast-tracked into service in response to emerging and evolving threats. The ability to manufacture quickly and at scale is therefore crucial to securing the advantage over adversaries.
- Human protection and performance – New capabilities cannot be introduced safely or effectively without first understanding how humans may interact with them. Unexpected human responses can undermine the advantages of technology. All new technologies and procedures should therefore be developed with the human in mind and tested in live exercises to expose hidden risks. Understanding how people respond to things like disinformation campaigns gives clues as to how best to protect against them
- Platform and system design and assessment – Below the threshold of war, the primary role of large platforms like warships and tanks is to act as a deterrent against military aggression. By moving away from long life systems which are typically harder to adapt, to a modular approach that enables core capabilities to be augmented, while preserving essential functions, will deliver much greater value for money.