We live in a time when foreign nations no longer achieve supremacy by engaging in a traditional battlefield warfare. Most nations realized that there are considerable disadvantages to fighting the battle in the open by using the old-style weapons and mechanisms, which helped to establish an entirely new kind of combat, the information warfare. Instead of using heavy weaponry, the warfare operations are executed in secrecy primarily by leveraging the information and communication technology. As a result, the modern war has moved from a physical space into a virtual cyberspace.
Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese general and military strategist, wrote in 500 BC, “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” (Tzu, 2017).
Because the area of research concerned with Electronic Warfare (management and battlespace use of electromagnetic spectrum) is closely related to Computer Security (protection of hardware, software or information against security threats), the two interrelated disciplines eventually merged to form a new concept of Information Warfare (IW).
Information Warfare – Recent Instances
One of the classic recent examples of information warfare is the purchase of Facebook during the last U.S. presidential elections, linked to a sinister Russian agency. According to Facebook estimated “10 million people saw the political advertisements purchased by a shadowy Russian internet agency” (Gambino, 2017). The goal seems related to influencing the public opinion and undermining the election chances of one of the presidential candidates. The senior fellow for Public Diplomacy, Helle C. Dale says, “Americans have been reminded that while the Soviet Union is long gone, its insidious disinformation strategies are alive and well.” (Dale, 2017).
The information warfare occurs on many fronts, typically consisting of espionage, sabotage and deception:
The disinformation and propaganda outlined above are only one of the concern of Information Warfare. The cyber-attacks can compromise the electromagnetic spectrum (space satellites and ground systems), computer hardware, software and confidential information. Each of these technologies can be used in Information Warfare.
Information Warfare – Countermeasures
The governments should proactively participate in recognizing the information warfare as one of the most dangerous threats. The issues of national security must be taken very seriously. In my view, the democratic society needs an infrastructure capable of automatic sensing and responding to threats coming from the space of information warfare. Perhaps establishing a dedicated resource or organization with the goal to advance the technology to automatically detect and dynamically shield the nation against possible security threats could be one of the possible countermeasures.
It seems we are moving in a right direction. The European Union has created East StratCom Task Force. The Finland established the ‘strike team, ’; and in July 2017, Senator John McCain proposed to create a new position of Chief Information Warfare Officer (CIWO), with “responsibilities to run the gamut from space systems to nuclear systems and cybersecurity” (San Francisco Chronicle, 2017).
In the setting of an organization, the information warfare issues are linked primarily to industrial espionage (in most cases).
In this context, I agree with Panda and Giordano (1999) that it truly comes down to “protect, detect, and react.”.
These are the actions that should be implemented by all corporations, ideally as mostly automated software solutions. Of course, I am not referring to antivirus and malware scans, but rather to periodic scans of the underlying infrastructure, infrastructure, and software log reviews, code and application vulnerability scans, etc. Additionally, the security training should obligatory to all employees.
Tzu S. (2017). The Art of War. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/4GoRwr [Accessed 28 Oct. 2017].
San Francisco Chronicle. (2017). Let’s not risk a Cold War in space. [online] Available at: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Let-s-not-risk-a-Cold-War-in-space-12312806.php [Accessed 28 Oct. 2017].
Dale, H. (2017). Heritage Foundation . Russian Information Warfare: An Advancing Front of Disinformation and Propaganda. [online] Available at: http://www.heritage.org/europe/event/russian-information-warfare-advancing-front-disinformation-and-propaganda [Accessed 28 Oct. 2017].
Gambino, L. (2017). Facebook says up to 10m people saw ads bought by Russian agency. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/02/facebook-says-up-to-10m-people-saw-ads-bought-by-russian-agency [Accessed 28 Oct. 2017].
Panda, B., & Giordano, J. (1999). Defensive information warfare. Communications of the ACM, 42(7), 30-30.