There are a lot of talks these days about “the information war.” However, only a few people can tell what it is. Also, even specialists will be unable to address when the phrase “information war” was first coined or when it was first suggested that Information be used as a weapon. Similarly, suppose you discover this material and provide answers to these concerns. In that case, you will inevitably raise several queries, such as what is information warfare, what methods are being used, and what is the goal of this conflict? Consider whether hacking attacks are military and, if so, what appropriate techniques. We’ll try to answer these and potentially more questions about this topic in the sections below.
What is Information Warfare?
Information warfare is a concept that involves using and managing Information and communication technology in the battlespace to gain a competitive and strategic advantage over an opponent. Information warfare is the deliberate manipulation of Information trusted by a target without the target’s knowledge for the target to make decisions that are not in their best interests but are in the best interests of the person conducting the information warfare. As a result, it’s difficult to tell when information warfare starts, stops, or how powerful or destructive it is. It’s not the same as cyber warfare, which targets computers, software, and command and control systems.
Collection of tactical Information, assurance that one’s Information is correct, dissemination of propaganda or disinformation to demoralize or manipulate the enemy and the public, undermining the quality of the opposing force’s Information, and denial of information-collection opportunities to opposing forces are all examples of information warfare. Information warfare is closely linked to psychological warfare. To learn more about psychological warfare, read this article: Psychological Warfare: War without Arms and Weapons.
Information warfare is not a single, easy thing; according to those in the International Warfare Community(IW), it has numerous intricate components. Martin Libicki, a well-known author on information warfare, expresses this viewpoint in his book “What is Information Warfare,” “Coming to terms with information warfare is like the blind men’s attempt to figure out what the elephant’s nature was: one touched its leg and called it a tree, another felt its tail and called it a rope, and so on. Information warfare manifests itself in similar ways. When all the good definitions of the elephant are added together, it appears there is little that isn’t information warfare.”
Regrettably, acknowledging that the IW community has multiple dimensions offers little to advance our knowledge. “What it entails and whether it replaces or changes known techniques of conducting war are where interpretations disagree.” Fortunately, while attitudes are separate on some topics, they converge on others. There appears to be a subset of themes that the IW community has agreed to fall under the umbrella of information warfare. We define “information warfare” as the topics set for this debate’s sake.
The United States military focus tends to favor technology and extend into electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, information assurance, computer network operations, attack, and defense. However, most of the rest of the world uses the much broader term “Information Operations,” which, although making use of technology, focuses on the more human-related aspects of information use, including social network analysis, decision analysis, and the human elements of command and control. However, it can also take many forms.
Why can Information warfare take many forms?
In modern warfare, Information Warfare can take many forms because nowadays, there is a vast range of information-sharing technology and methods available that can be used to manipulate a wide range of audiences. Below are some examples:
- Television, internet, and radio transmission can be jammed.
- Television, internet, and radio transmission can be hijacked for a disinformation campaign, or social media, internet, movies, and web movies, can be used for spreading propaganda and brainwashing the masses.
- Logistics networks can be disabled.
- Enemy communications networks can be disabled or spoofed, especially online social communities in modern days.
- Stock exchange transactions can be sabotaged, either with electronic intervention, by leaking sensitive Information, or by placing disinformation.
- The use of drones and other surveillance robots or webcams.
- Communication management.
In a paper titled “Weapon Systems and Information War” written for the Boeing firm in 1976, Thomas P. Rona used the term “information war” for the first time. According to him, information infrastructure is becoming a critical component of the American economy. This report may be the first time the term “information war” was used. Read the paper here: Weapon Systems and Information War(PDF).
The report marks the start of a media-focused campaign. The issue has stimulated the interest of the US military, which has a history of dealing with “secret materials.” Since 1980, the US Air Force has been actively discussing this topic. By then, everyone had agreed that Information could be used as both a target and a weapon.
Then the term “information war” was first used in Ministry of Defense documents in response to the emergence of new duties following the conclusion of the Cold War. After the 1991 operation “Desert Storm,” in which new information technologies were first deployed as a method of combat, the phrase was officially used in the US Minister of Defense Directive DODD 3600 on December 21, 1992.
The “Doctrine of resistance against systems of control and management” was enacted by the US Department of Defense a few years later, in February 1996. As an application of information warfare in military operations, this paper discusses the concepts for combating control and management systems.
The everyday use of techniques and methods of security, military deception, psychological operations, electronic warfare, and physical destruction of control system objects, supported by intelligence, to deny Information, influence, or destruction of enemy abilities for the control and management of the battlefield while protecting their forces and allied forces, as well as preventing the enemy from controlling and managing the battlefield. The organizational structure, planning, training, and management of the business were all specified in this paper.
The fact that this publication has developed the concept and doctrine of war with methods of control and administration is the most crucial. The US Department of Defense recognized the potential and idea of information warfare for the first time.
Late in 1996, Robert Bunker, a Pentagon expert, gave a study on the new military doctrine of the United States armed forces for the twenty-first century at one of the symposia (the concept of “Force XXI”). A breakdown of the entire theatre of operations into two components – traditional space and cyberspace, the latter of which is far more significant – formed the foundation. Bunker proposed the “cyber mania” doctrine, which he believes should be a natural complement to traditional military principles aiming at neutralizing or suppressing hostile forces.
Since the 1980s, the United States Air Force has had Information Warfare Squadrons. However, in actuality, the US Air Force’s official goal is now “To fly, battle, and win in air, space, and cyberspace, with the latter referring to the service’s information warfare role.
During the Gulf War, Dutch hackers allegedly stole Information regarding US army movements from US Defense Department systems. They attempted to sell it to Iraqis, who dismissed it as a scam. In January 1999, a coordinated attack (Moonlight Maze) was launched on US Air Intelligence computers, with part of the attack coming from a Russian mainframe. However, due to non-attribution — the notion that online identity may not serve as proof of real-world identity – this could not be confirmed as a Russian cyber attack.
Information Warfare Weapons
What are information warfare weapons? To address this topic, we’ll look at each of the strategies listed below and a quick rundown of the most frequent weaponry used to accomplish them.
Collection of Information
The information revolution means the advent of a paradigm of conflict in which the side that knows more will enjoy decisive advantages; therefore, information collection is included as part of information warfare. The premise is that having more information increases one’s situational awareness, which leads to better battle preparations and, presumably, better results.
Precision location locating technology, such as navigation using the Global Positioning System (GPS), has dramatically alleviated these issues. Reconnaissance and surveillance technology have also made it feasible to learn about the enemy’s whereabouts to some extent. Reconnaissance and surveillance functions are also moving toward using sensors from spectra such as infrared, ultraviolet, olfactory, aural, optical, seismic, etc., and integrating data from these to build a holistic picture. Because these technologies can penetrate situations and obtain accurate Information with minimum loss of accuracy, information collection in information warfare is significantly less risky and far more complete.
Transfer of Information
Collecting a large amount of detailed Information is a fantastic idea, but it’s useless if the data is idle in a storage facility. As a result, another critical feature of information warfare is the ability to promptly get information into the hands of people who need it. The tools in this arena are not weapons but civilian technologies that have been applied to military situations. Communication infrastructure includes networks of computers, routers, telephone lines, fiber optic cable, telephones, televisions, radios, and other data transport technologies and protocols. Without these technologies, it would be challenging to convey Information in the real-time manner demanded by today’s standards.
Here military needs a networked infrastructure to transmit Information. To know more about “network,” please read this article: Network-Centric Warfare. For hundreds of years, the military has relied on hierarchies to convey Information rather than networks. Civilian improvements in communication technology, on the other hand, have followed a networked paradigm, which has the potential to transform how military command and control are thought of fundamentally.
Moving to networked architecture may necessitate some command and control decentralization. However, decentralization is only one element of the equation. The new technology may also provide more “top sight,” or a centralized understanding of the large picture that helps with complexity management. As a result, even a seemingly minor modification in information transit technology can transform information-era warfare into something substantially different from its industrial-age equivalent.
Protection of Information
One of the most widely accepted components of information warfare is the need to limit the amount of Information available to your opponent. Therefore, protecting the information you have from capture by the other side is a significant component. Two types of weaponry are employed to protect the security of the data. The first is the technologies that physically safeguard critical data storage facilities, computers, and transportation mechanisms, such as bomb and bulletproof casings and intrusion prevention devices like locks and fingerprint scans.
The second and probably more crucial is a technology that prevents bits from being viewed and intercepted by the opponent. This encompasses fundamental computer security mechanisms such as passwords and more advanced technology such as encryption by scrambling its communications and unscrambling those of the other side. Each side conducts the fundamental act of information warfare, defending its image of reality while damaging the other.
Manipulation of Information
Information manipulation refers to altering data to distort the opponent’s perception of reality. This can be accomplished using various technologies, such as computer software, for modifying text, pictures, video, audio, and other types of data transmission. The limited data is typically designed by hand so that those in charge can control the image given to the enemy. However, the technologies above are frequently employed to speed up the physical modification process once the content has been decided.
Disturbance, degradation, and denial of Information
According to our earlier description, disturbance, degradation, and denial are the final aspects of information warfare. All three strategies stop the enemy from obtaining comprehensive and accurate Information. Due to their similarities, many of the same weapons are utilized to achieve one or more of the aims. As a result, it makes sense to discuss them all simultaneously. Spoofing, noise introduction, jamming, and overloading are some of the standard weapons used in this style of information warfare.
Spoofing is a method of lowering the quality of Information supplied to an opponent. Placing a “spoof,” or bogus message, into the enemy’s information flow disrupts that flow. Because you can provide “false information to the targeted competitor’s collecting systems to convince this organization to make incorrect decisions based on this flawed information,” the strategy works.
Another technique to sabotage an opponent’s ability to receive Information is to add noise into the frequency they are using. Background noise makes it harder for the enemy to distinguish between the actual message and the background noise. If the attacker uses wireless communication, this is a precious strategy because those frequencies may be tapped without connecting to a physical network of wires.
Intercepting signals transferred between two communication lines or between a sensor and a link are used to achieve denial. First, the call is blocked and then “jammed” or prevented from continuing to its destination. Then, in most situations, the captor saves that identical signal as intelligence data and uses it to determine how the opponent sees its position in the fight.
Finally, overloading is a tactic for denying Information to the opponent in both military and civilian settings. Sending an amount of data to the enemy’s communication system that it can’t manage leads the system to crash or severely degrades its ability to convey Information. Because the system is overburdened, it cannot deliver critical Information to people who require it. This is known as a “denial of service” attack, and it has been demonstrated to be both simple and successful.
Defending Against Information Warfare
The strategies and weapons outlined above have the potential to cause significant damage to a military mission that relies on Information. So, how can we defend ourselves? There are several options, many of which use the same methods we use to attack others. The rest of this section looks at the countermeasures available for each dimension of information warfare.
Collection of Information
To fight against information-gathering attacks, one must prevent opponents from gathering data about oneself and the conflict scenario. This entails securing the data from interception and preventing data from reaching the enemy’s data collection facilities. The weapons mentioned earlier for protection, disturbance, degradation, and denial attacks are available countermeasures for protecting against information collecting. In addition, encryption, spoofing, noise introduction, jamming, and overloading are all effective ways to keep the enemy’s information collection bare minimum.
Transfer of Information
Because information transit primarily relies on infrastructure, destroying the enemy’s infrastructure is the most effective countermeasure for blocking transport. This countermeasure is called anti-neck command-and-control warfare by knowing how the other side communicates. This defense, though, can be relatively simple if one has that understanding. The nodes are easily detected and disabled if the wire expresses the design.
Communication systems, including command centers, can be harmed by attacks on generators, substations, and fuel supply pipes. When an electromagnetic architecture is used, the central nodes are frequently visible. Communication lines can be blocked or deafened if satellites are employed for transmission and signaling.
As a countermeasure to information transmission, attacking an enemy’s infrastructure can be relatively simple and have far-reaching consequences for their entire information system. Dr. David S. Alberts writes about this issue in his book Defensive Information Warfare. Please read it here: http://www.dodccrp.org/files/Alberts_Defensive.pdf.
Two different scenarios are used to demonstrate how chaotic infrastructure attacks may be. In the first situation, a specific infrastructure attack may result in unforeseeable proximate repercussions that dramatically exacerbate the attack’s effects. When the cumulative effect of a series of attacks greatly surpasses the sum of the individual products of a sequence of independent events, the result is chaotic behavior. Unfortunately, this is a relatively common pattern.
Protection of Information
We must get beyond adversary security methods to counter enemy attempts to secure their information supply. Encryption, as previously said, is the principal technological weapon for obtaining one’s Information. Unfortunately, recent advances in encryption have made countermeasures extremely difficult to implement. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to decode computer-generated messages.
The combination of technologies such as the triple-digital encryption standard (DES) for message communication using private keys and public-key encryption (PKE) for passing private keys using public keys (so set-up communications remain in the clear) will likely overwhelm even the most powerful code-breaking computers. As a result, those attempting to counter information protection will find their efforts will eventually be in vain. Until then, attempts to break codes with powerful computers are expected to produce the best results.
Cryptography is not the sole instrument for data protection, even though it is the most effective. In truth, passwords are a much more extensively utilized method of preventing illegal access to information systems. On the other hand, password systems rely on people to maintain track of and enter codes, exposing them to severe risk. Obtaining or guessing passwords can be incredibly easy if a physical presence near the system or individuals who use it is possible. It is a very effective technique for gaining access to protected Information.
Manipulation of Information
There is little chance to stop an enemy from changing Information once they have it. In light of this, there are only two options for defending against this attack. To begin, one might endeavor to prevent Information from being intercepted in the first place. Information protection techniques are most successful in this situation because they contain the opponent from gaining access to or understanding the Information as it was initially provided.
The second, arguably more important, step in guarding against data manipulation is to keep the tampered data from being reintroduced into the real-time flow of data. Fortunately, there are several methods for accomplishing this, the most frequent of which is redundancy.
Information manipulation is referred to as a “semantic attack” by Martin Libicki, who states that “a system under semantic attack runs and will be regarded as operating correctly, but it will give responses at odds with reality.” He claims that this happens because those systems rely on an information source, which he refers to as a sensor, for Information about the real world. Therefore, if the sensors can be tampered with, the systems can also be tampered with.
Safeguards against failure might lay in, for instance, sensors redundant by types and distributions, supplemented by a sensible allocation of decision-making power among humans and machines to combat a semantic attack. One can enhance the chances that the proper Information will get through by collecting the same information from many redundant sources. Then, even if the attacker successfully corrupts that data on one communication line, the erroneous data will be detectable since it differs from the picture from the rest of your sources.
Disturbance, Degradation, and Denial of Information
Many of the countermeasures already stated are required to defend against information disturbance, deterioration, and denial. Because all of the weapons used to carry out these attacks need access to opponent communication channels, information protection techniques and redundancy channels can help keep some lines of communication open and unaffected by attackers. In addition, the legacy system collection has a certain level of intrinsic durability and resiliency. They point to overlaps and duplications in these systems and suggest entirely disrupting a set of services would be extremely difficult.
Several strategies are expressly designed to neutralize the weapons listed for causing disruption, degradation, and denial of service attacks. “Frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum, and code-division multiple access (CDMA) technologies are becoming more popular because they are difficult to jam and intercept. Digital technology can focus on frontal signals and eliminate jamming from the sides in communications to and from recognized places. Furthermore, even if substantial bitstream chunks are destroyed, digital compression techniques combined with signal redundancy allow bitstreams to be retrieved intact. These approaches, along with the thousands of others presently being developed at research facilities worldwide, make it easier to recover from attempts to tamper with and block data as it travels to its intended destination every day.
Concerns about the Law, Ethics, and Morals
While information warfare has advanced the types of attacks that any country can launch, it has also raised questions about the moral and legal uncertainties surrounding this relatively new form of warfare. Traditionally, honest scientists have examined wars using the just war theory. On the other hand, Just War Theory fails when it comes to Information Warfare because it is based on a traditional view of war. When opposed to traditional combat, information warfare has three significant issues:
- The risk to the party or country that launches the cyberattack is significantly smaller than the risk to a party or country that launches a traditional attack. This makes it easier for governments, as well as prospective terrorists or criminal organizations, to carry out attacks on a larger scale than they could with traditional warfare.
- Information and communication technologies (ICT) are so pervasive in today’s society that they put many devices at risk of being hacked. Civilian technologies, in particular, can be targeted for cyberattacks, and assaults could even be launched from civilian computers or websites. As a result, civilian infrastructures are more difficult to manage than physical space. Moreover, attempting to do so would raise numerous ethical problems about the right to privacy, making it even more challenging to defend against such attacks.
- The widespread integration of ICT into our military system makes determining blame for situations that may develop when using robotic and cyber strikes much more difficult. As a result, determining who is to blame for any event is becoming increasingly demanding regarding automatic weaponry and automated systems. This problem is worsened in the event of cyberattacks, as it can be challenging to determine who started the attack in the first place.
Recently, there have been legal concerns raised about these issues, particularly the right to privacy in the United States of America. When writing to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lt. General Keith B. Alexander, the former commander of Cyber Command under President Barack Obama, stated that there was a “mismatch between the technical capability to execute operations and the governing laws and rules.” The targeting of civilian institutions for cyberattacks was a significant source of concern. The general promised to maintain a mindset similar to traditional combat, in which they will endeavor to minimize the impact on people.
It is clear from this discussion that information warfare is just as complex as traditional combat. It entails various strategies, tactics, weapons, and defenses. Moreover, many would argue that the information warfare subset of themes described above leaves out critical national security risks. However, we have plenty to keep our military occupied for a long time.
Because the US Air Force frequently puts planes and aircrews in danger by attacking important enemy communications targets, remotely disabling such objectives with software and other techniques can be a safer alternative. Furthermore, electronically deactivating such networks (rather than explosively) allows them to be easily re-enabled when enemy territory has been captured. Counter-information warfare troops are also used to deny the opponent this capability. These techniques were first utilized against Iraqi communications networks during the Gulf War.
One should use the collection of more well-understood characteristics of information warfare to develop real-world plans for dealing with the threats anyone can bring. One can also add more information-related threats to the list of “information warfare” approaches and begin to design weapons and countermeasures for them as individuals at the top of the information warfare ladder better understand them. Finally, one must also prepare to be combatant in the information war that is now unfolding with the Information the world has.
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This Article was Published On: 29 March, 2022 And Last Modified On: 29 May, 2023
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