some of the mysteries of the various black arts in Electrical Engineering.
Light-hearted Look at Information Warfare.
Definition of Information Warfare.
is simply the use of information to achieve certain objectives. Information,
in itself, is a key aspect of national and commercial power and, more
importantly, is becoming an increasingly vital national resource that
supports diplomacy, economic competition and the effective employment
of military forces.
Warfare is about ideas and epistemology-
meaning that it is about the way we think and, more important, the
way decisions are made. And although information warfare would be waged
largely, but not entirely, through the communication nets of a society
or its military, it is, fundamentally, not just about satellites, wires,
and computers. It is about influencing human beings and the decisions
target of information warfare, then, is the human mind, (Old-fashioned
propaganda), especially those minds that make the key decisions of war
or peace and, from the military perspective, those minds that make the
key decisions on, if, when, and how to employ the assets and capabilities.
the concept of information warfare in its computer, (ELINT - electronic
intelligent gathering), communications, the net or web versions are mostly
used for military operations involving traditional state-to-state conflict.
There are new and dangerous players in "cyberspace"- the battlefield
for information warfare, called the infowarrior.
are these infowarriors - who are these monitors of the information highway
- Who do the work for ? To whom do the owe allegiance ? Is it to themselves,
a country, an ideology or to the almighty dollar
Warfare is not to be confused with Cyberwar and Netwar, (Which has more
to do with controlling the Internet (net), web and it's relevant practices),
but of all information. Although, at first glance, these two terms may
appear to be new words for the same thing, there is a difference. Although
with time, it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate, as
computers take more and more controls of our lives and day to day activities.
are so many different players - from the traditional military and government,
to business and nonstate political agents such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International,
Radio Free Europe, the Cominform, Agence France Presse, rogue computer
hackers, some third world "rebel" (for example survivalist militias
or Islamic revivalists) who stages a "a human rights abuse"
for the various media groups. Ideological/religious inspired terrorists
with easy access to world-wide computer and communications networks to
influence, to exchange information, or to co-ordinate political action
on a national or global basis.
of this suggests that the military or governments of a traditional nation-state
may not be the only ones threatened or the driver of our national security
politics but also that of big business and the commercial implications
may be the new "battlespace," but the battle remains the battle
for the mind. There must be no confusion of the battlespace with the battle
in the field. The strangest fact is that it not only affects first world
countries but all countries with the least developed nations at the greatest
risk, as they are the most easily influenced.
the advent of information warfare, propaganda was traditionally targeted
through various mass media to influence a mass audience - traditionally
rallies, meetings, by the newspapers, the old snail mail, radio and film.
One key change made possible by the new technologies is the potential
for customized propaganda (TV, mail order, e-mail and e-commerce, to name
but a few). Those of us, who, have received individually targeted political
advertising from a company specializing in "niche" marketing
research must have had a momentary shudder when we realized that there
are private companies who seem to know everything about our buying habits
and tastes, and what television shows, we watch. Every credit card purchase
adds data to someone's resources, and not everybody is selling just soap
public and commercial databases and the multiple channels of information
transmission, computer bulletin boards, Cellphone, video / digital cameras
and even the now, humble, common fax machine, have created constantly
expanding number of sources, media and channels for the transmission of
information. Essentially available to anyone with skill or money to hire
people of skill, to intercept, have created the opportunity and "target
sets" for custom-tailored information warfare attacks on,
(not just e-mail spamming or credit card fraud for example), not
just the average John Citizen, but the families of military personnel,
business executives and political figures.
of the recent benefits of information technology are going, not into more
powerful computers, but into more widely distributed intelligence. This
aspect of commercial life can be applied to the battlefield with even
greater force. Proliferation in the civil world has its limits -- one
person can get on, but one functioning computer at a time.
the military realm, though, computers could be slaved to sensors and networked.
The use of intelligent devices on the battlefield has no theoretical upper
limit and such distribution is not only possible, but also optimal. For
military operations, efficient area-wide coverage becomes important. A
hundred pairs of eyes can always find something in the field more easily
if they are spread around, rather than bunched up. Dispersion is also
good for localizing an object. A hundred pair of 'eyes' can detect, and
more important, track a movement better than a single high-power 'eye'
stuck in one place.
cost - performance ratio of computers has flipped; it is greater at the
lower end than the upper end. Microprocessors deliver more mips (million
instructions per second) for the dollar than their more sophisticated
mainframe or even supercomputer rivals. Even supercomputers, these days,
are most cost - effective when built from thousands of microcomputer or
workstation, and the best microprocessors are found, not in giant machines,
but in workstations; while the most cost-effective microprocessors are
in high-end personal computers. If digital television takes off, the most
cost-effective chips may be found within these sets, only further validating
this generalization as, high-capacity fiber optic lines are still the
most cost- effective way to send a bit.
cost-effectiveness of employing less sophisticated products manufactured
in the millions rather than a handful of very sophisticated products extends
to other information products: photographic film, television and computer
displays, tape backup, (e.g., audio cassette-sized tapes or video tapes),
CD-ROM, and hard disk drives. Information
technology tends to be most cost-effective at the low end.
pattern of the information age stands in direct contrast to historically
recognized patterns of the industrial age, where bigger was more cost-effective.
For instance, larger submarines tend to be quieter. Full-sized aircraft
carriers can launch far more planes. Yet, cost relatively, only slightly
more than pocket-sized carriers. Heavy space systems can lift a pound
into orbit cheaper than their lighter cousins can. The Boeing 747 still
offers the lowest cost per seat-mile. Auto factories, nuclear plants,
oil refineries, cement kilns, and chemical reactors achieved their greatest
economies at largest sizes.
further reason is that distributed systems put intelligence where it can
be used at peoples fingers tips - Cell phones, palm tops, notebooks to
name a few. A central box with a hundred phones may offer the most calls
per dollar, but forcing everyone to go to the box would be highly inefficient.
Even distributing a hundred desktop terminals may be less cost-effective
than networked PCs, if users cannot customize them and thus avoid using
for example, (conservatively estimated) over 90 million people in over
110 nations, using over +20 000 databases and growing daily. The domestic
computer, communication, and information networks essential for the daily
functioning of our society are very vulnerable to penetration and manipulation,
even destruction, by determined hackers.
over an estimated 5 000 software pirates, hackers, are prowling the Internet,
some in the employ of hostile commercial or intelligence services or freelancing
- Are these the new infowarriors of the future or the new guardians of
our future ? In the future, these may not be amateurs, but well-paid "network
ninjas" inserting the latest American, British, German, French, Iranian,
South African or Chinese virus into the web or other parts of the Internet.
strategic information warfare attack on communication systems, including
military communication systems, air traffic control system, financial
net, fuel pipeline pumping software, and computer-based clock/timing systems,
could result in social paralysis.
resources and skills required for battlefield cyberwar are not insignificant,
but the resources and skills required to wage Information War at the national
strategic level is so massive that no single entity or government can
hope to combat it alone. Another is the ability to prosecute - as the
political and legal issues surrounding Info war are murky, not clearly,
nor universal or globally defined, nor understood or agreed on. What if
a hacker / infowarrior in Country A attacks a system in country B ? How
can he be bought to justice ? Is it even a crime in country B ?
forces, Security and Intelligence Agencies, only execute, mostly, the
national military strategy-they do not control it. However, they are developing
the tools and techniques to execute the national military strategy for
operational-level Information Warfare. They are simultaneously, albeit
unintentionally, developing the tools and capabilities to execute a national
strategic information war strategy. The former is their job under the
Constitution; the latter may not be.
oversight in the development of a national strategic-level information
war capability is even more essential than oversight of the intelligence
community, who often act independently and at cross purposes with what
is good for good, old Joe Soap.
wizardry aside, does anyone really believe that anyone, or that any government,
or anyone in Government has the philosophical sophistication, moral impartiality,
to monitor and to control the information superhighway ? Never the less,
protect the public or innocent user from it. Thus, Information Warfare
is the battle of not just the future, but of now the present.
Disclaimer and Note.
conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those solely of
the author. This material is copyrighted. Any comments, any omission or
additional information, can be made directly to the author at e-mail:
About the Author:
in East London South Africa, now living in Pretoria South Africa - Spent
over twenty years in the technical field - mainly Radar and later Electronic
Warfare - more recently mainly in the Information Technology. Most recently,
a brief spell with Wargames, thus his interest in Information Warfare,
Electronic Warfare, Wargames and related fields. Presently self-employed.
Various Article on Information War and Warfare
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