Social Media as a Strategic Advantage during Cyberwarfare: A Systematic Literature Review




Cyberattacks, Cyberspace, Cybersecurity, Russia-Ukraine, Warfare , Social Media


In recent years, cyberspace has been shaped by a rapid and transformative technological evolution, which ushered in an era characterised by unparalleled connectivity and innovation. However, this remarkable progress has brought a concerning surge in cyberattacks that have fundamentally altered cyberspace dynamics and refined the nature of contemporary warfare. This refinement was vividly illustrated in the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict, where cyberspace played a pivotal role, blurring the traditional boundaries of conflict in the cyber age. As a result, this study used secondary data to examine how various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and Telegram were used as a strategic advantage during the conflict. The findings disclosed that Russia employed offensive propaganda against Ukraine, while Ukraine adopted a defensive stance, effectively countering the narrative through an active online presence. Moreover, this study underscored the substantial role of social media in warfare and its continued significance in future conflicts. Furthermore, this study provided recommendations for nations to better prepare for such conflicts. The recommendations provide valuable insights to assist decision-makers and policymakers in enhancing cybersecurity awareness and practices within their respective countries.

Author Biographies

Errol Baloyi, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Errol is a former military personnel who presently works as a cybersecurity researcher at the CSIR. His areas of interest and competence are OSINT, threat intelligence, pen testing, and digital forensics. He is currently a master's degree candidate and holds a CEH certificate.

Oyena Mahlasela, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Ms Oyena N Mahlasela is a cybersecurity researcher at CSIR and a Master's student at the University of Pretoria. Her research looks at micro-credentials, finding new ways for people to learn cybersecurity skills. Oyena is dedicated to improving how we learn and apply cybersecurity skills for a safer online world. She is currently working on projects such as Zero-Knowledge Proofs, Edu-cyber and cybersecurity awareness, to name a few.  Her interests involve exploring how rules and education in cybersecurity connect and how to make it easier for everyone to understand and use cybersecurity tools to safeguard themselves.

Nokuthaba Siphambili, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Nokuthaba Siphambili is currently an MIT (ICT Information Science) student at the University of Pretoria. Her current research interests lie at the intersection of cybersecurity, governance, privacy, and trust; particularly focused on exploring innovative approaches to enhance cybersecurity measures, address governance challenges in information systems, promote privacy, and trust in digital environments.

Mayan Stegmann, Nclose

Mayan Stegmann is a dedicated threat intelligence specialist and security researcher with a passion for understanding the intricate dynamics of cyber warfare and terrorism. His expertise extends to international security, risk management, advanced persistent threats, the evolving cyber threat landscape, and the interplay of geopolitics. Stegmann's comprehensive knowledge and commitment to these critical domains shape a well-rounded professional profile.