Information Operations: An Act of War?   [open pdf - 55KB]

Technology has expanded at an astronomical rate over the past several years, making logarithmic leaps in both complexity and utility. As technology has dramatically increased, so has our dependency upon it. As we have discovered the efficiency of these technological advances, we are slowly weaning ourselves of the once-predominant "low-tech" ways to perform these same functions. For this reason, an effective computer intrusion followed by additional adverse information operations (such as data "theft," corruption, denial, or delay) could be more devastating than we realize. If these types of operations could be launched against the U.S. (and its computer networks), it makes sense for us to explore the applicability of this technology to similar operations. Are we doing so? The full extent of U.S. offensive capabilities is among the most tightly held national security secrets. According to various accounts, the government has explored ways of planting computer viruses or "logic bombs" in foreign networks to sow confusion and disruption. It has considered manipulating cyberspace to disable an enemy air defense network without firing a shot, shut off power and phone service in major cities, feed false information about troop locations into an adversary's computers and morph video images onto foreign television stations. Although there is practically no unclassified information available regarding U.S. offensive information warfare capabilities or programs, George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, has commented "we're not asleep at the switch in this regard." The available technology provides many new applications that far exceed the ethical limitations on such use, according to one high-ranking DoD official. We can assume that every technologically modern country is aggressively pursuing a "cyberwar" program, including both info-protect and info-attack types of operations.

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Air & Space Power Chronicles: http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/cc.html
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Air & Space Power Chronicles (21 July 2000)
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