A modern kind of warfare whereby information and attacks on information and/or on the enemy’s computer network are used as a way to wage war against some chosen enemy.
Information warfare may include giving the enemy special information (commonly referred to as “propaganda”) to persuade the enemy to surrender, or withholding from the enemy important information that might result in the enemy’s resistance. Information warfare may also include feeding “disinformation” to one’s own people, either to build support for the war effort or to counter the effects of the enemy’s propaganda campaign. Finally, information warfare may include designing a strategic plan for a multiple-stage attack against an adversary’s information systems while protecting one’s own information network and capitalizing on one’s own information “edge.”
In contrast to traditional wars fought on soil, information warfare has no front line or boundaries. Potential battlefields can consist of any networked system that can be accessed. For this reason, the United States and other countries are concerned about information wars focusing on Information Technology controlling critical infrastructures targets—oil and gas pipelines, electric power grids, nuclear power stations, and telephone switching networks, to name a few. The vulnerability of networked systems is why security experts in the United States and elsewhere fear an impending cyber Apocalypse.
Information warfare damage can manifest in countless ways. For example, railroad trains and jets could be rerouted and caused to crash; stock exchanges could be cracked and then sabotaged by “sniffers”—thereby corrupting international networks for funds transfer; and radio and television signals could be taken over and used for “misinformation” campaigns.
Finally, recent events have confirmed that information warfare has been implemented. During the Gulf War, for example, Dutch crackers exploited U.S. Defense Department computers and seized troop-movement information. They then tried to offer, for a handsome price, the secret information to the Iraqis, who turned down the offer, thinking the plot was a hoax. Moreover, in January 1999, U.S. Air Intelligence computers were hijacked by a coordinated attack, a portion of which appeared to be Russian driven.
A&E Television Networks. Science at War: Information Warfare. [Online, October 13, 2004.] A&E Television Networks Website. http://www.historychannel.com/ exhibits/science_war/iwar.html; GNU_FDL.[Online, 2004.] Information Warfare. GNU Free Documentation License Website. http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Information_warfare.