Founder/Principal Consultant at Chasseur Group
Munira Mustaffa, the founder, Executive Director, and principal consultant of Chasseur Group, has over a decade of extensive experience in private, public, and military security sectors. She is a non-resident fellow at the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a Washington, DC-based policy think tank, and a fellow at Verve Research, an independent research collective focusing on military-society relations in the Indo-Pacific region's political development. Her work primarily identifies and analyses non-traditional security challenges, including terrorism, extremism, paramilitary organisations, and media and information warfare. She holds a master's degree from University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom.
The deployment of cyber and cyber-enabled effects to manipulate public opinion and advance political agendas during election cycles is a problem that affects democracies globally but has received far less attention outside the Euro-Atlantic area. In Malaysia, cybertroopers, or "cytros," are coordinated groups of individuals, either paid operatives or volunteers, who exploit online platforms to deliver political messaging or red-tagging campaigns to discredit individuals or groups as extremists. This talk will introduce three interrelated case studies: the weaponisation of conspiracy theories by political players in Malaysia to influence elections, the strategic deployment of cybertroopers to advance deceptive political narratives, and the red-tagging of political adversaries with the ultimate aim of manipulating electoral outcomes. The focus is on the tactics cybertroopers use to spread disinformation, exploiting platform rules, algorithms, and loopholes. The presentation discusses ethical dilemmas and potential consequences for democratic processes, proposing countermeasures to increase transparency and accountability in political campaigning and improve cybersecurity and election infrastructure. Specific aspects relevant to Malaysia and the global South are emphasised, including the need for robust legislative frameworks, accountability for social media platforms, and international collaboration to share best practices and resources. The presentation aims to offer a fresh perspective on the negative impacts of cyber-facilitated disinformation campaigns and a set of practical considerations for policymakers.