COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal presented research in cybersecurity at the annual InfraGard Partnership for Protection meeting for the Arkansas Chapter, held on January 26th. 

InfraGard is a partnership which connects those in the private sector with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for the goal of informing and protecting US critical infrastructure. InfraGard serves as a home for collaboration between owners and operators involved in critical infrastructure with the FBI; this collaboration revolves around providing education, information sharing, networking, and workshopping on emerging technology and threats. InfraGard membership is highly exclusive; currently, the organization is not even accepting applications, although interested individuals can apply to be added to a waitlist. Membership is made up of many different kinds of people and positions, like business executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, security personnel, military and government officials, IT professionals, state and local law enforcement, and academics and researchers.

Dr. Agarwal represents this last kind of member, helping educate others on the developing research in new cybersecurity threats, such as AI- or bot-based propaganda and mis- and disinformation. At the January meeting, he presented on specific research completed by COSMOS that informs these kinds of threats. This meeting took place at the Arkansas InfraGard chapter, which is part of the South Central chapters, consisting of Arkansas, Austin Capital Texas, Birmingham, El Paso, Houston, Huntsville, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Texas, Oklahoma, Rio Grande, and San Antonio. At meeting’s such as this one, Dr. Agarwal’s research has helped with InfraGard’s mission of promoting dialogue and communication in infrastructure, specifically in the realm of information technology.

Dr. Agarwal presented his most recent research at the meeting. This research he presented, titled “Developing Socio-computational Approaches to Mitigate Socio-cognitive Security Threats in a Multi-platform Multimedia-rich Information Environment”, parallels his most recent presentations before the chapter meeting, namely, presentations he gave at the NATO Science & Technology Organization Symposium on Mitigating and Responding to Cognitive Warfare (STO-MP-HFM-361) and at NYU’s 7th Computational Disinformation Symposium in November and December last year, respectively. Dr. Agarwal highlighted the notable contribution of his research: a multi-model, multi-theoretic approach that blends modeling, large datasets, and social science theories to outline and characterize influence campaigns conducted across multiple platforms. In particular, this research identifies key actors and groups or mobs that form either as a result of these campaigns or due to the efforts of bad actors. Predicting these forces matters significantly to security, since, as Dr. Agarwal puts it, “Propaganda disseminated through social media could potentially be used to persuade susceptible targets to disrupt or delay military operations through protests or other ‘non-lethal’ resistance.” Compounding the issue, narrative can “be easily manipulated and influenced by AI, bots, deepfakes, and other computational propaganda tactics,” he says. 

More information on InfraGard and their members and mission is available at