Information Warfare – The Enemy Within

The AtlanticThe Enemy Within

Mark Bowden writes that when the Conficker computer “worm” was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn’t know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker’s creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting …

Information Warfare – Cyber Warriors

The AtlanticCyber Warriors

When will China emerge as a military threat to the U.S.? In most respects the answer is: not anytime soon—China doesn’t even contemplate a time it might challenge America directly. But one significant threat already exists: cyberwar. Attacks—not just from China but from Russia and elsewhere—on America’s electronic networks cost millions of dollars and could in the extreme cause the collapse of financial life, the halt of most manufacturing systems, and the evaporation of all the data and knowledge stored on the Internet.

Information Warfare – In Digital Combat, U.S. Finds No Easy Deterrent

New York TimesIn Digital Combat, U.S. Finds No Easy Deterrent

On a Monday morning earlier this month, top Pentagon leaders gathered to simulate how they would respond to a sophisticated cyberattack aimed at paralyzing the nation’s power grids, its communications systems or its financial networks. The results were dispiriting. The enemy had all the advantages: stealth, anonymity and unpredictability. No one could pinpoint the country from which the attack came, so there was no effective way to deter further damage by threatening retaliation. What’s more, the military commanders noted that they even lacked the legal authority to respond — especially because it was never clear if the attack was an act of vandalism, an attempt at commercial theft or a state-sponsored effort to cripple the United States, perhaps as a prelude to a conventional war.

Information Warfare – Halted ’03 Iraq Plan Illustrates U.S. Fear of Cyberwar Risk

New York TimesHalted ’03 Iraq Plan Illustrates U.S. Fear of Cyberwar Risk

It would have been the most far-reaching case of computer sabotage in history. In 2003, the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies made plans for a cyberattack to freeze billions of dollars in the bank accounts of Saddam Hussein and cripple his government’s financial system before the United States invaded Iraq. He would have no money for war supplies. No money to pay troops. “We knew we could pull it off – we had the tools,” said one senior official who worked at the Pentagon when the highly classified plan was developed. But the attack never got the green light. Bush administration officials worried that the effects would not be limited to Iraq but would instead create worldwide financial havoc, spreading across the Middle East to Europe and perhaps to the United States.

Information Warfare – Contractors Vie for Plum Work, Hacking for U.S.

New York TimesContractors Vie for Plum Work, Hacking for U.S.

The government’s urgent push into cyberwarfare has set off a rush among the biggest military companies for billions of dollars in new defense contracts. The exotic nature of the work, coupled with the deep recession, is enabling the companies to attract top young talent that once would have gone to Silicon Valley. And the race to develop weapons that defend against, or initiate, computer attacks has given rise to thousands of “hacker soldiers” within the Pentagon who can blend the new capabilities into the nation’s war planning.

Information Warfare – Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies

Wall Street JournalElectricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies

Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials. The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

Information Warfare – Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S.

New York Times – The era of the American Internet is ending.

Invented by American computer scientists during the 1970s, the Internet has been embraced around the globe. During the networkís first three decades, most Internet traffic flowed through the United States. In many cases, data sent between two locations within a given country also passed through the United States.

Engineers who help run the Internet said that it would have been impossible for the United States to maintain its hegemony over the long run because of the very nature of the Internet; it has no central point of control.

And now, the balance of power is shifting. Data is increasingly flowing around the United States, which may have intelligence ó and conceivably military ó consequences.

Information Warfare – Playing for keeps

Armed Forces Journal – War game designer extraordinaire Mark Herman writes that computers have permeated everyday life, making even the smallest task quicker and more efficient. The problem is that the efficiencies created by computers are costing us our resilience to rebound from technological disturbances. To counter this, the U.S. military needs to lead more war-game cyber security exercises, not only across the services, but also together with the federal civilian government, critical infrastructure industry sectors and allies.

Information Warfare – Arab Media and the Battle for Ideas

First Monday – David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla, authors of Netwar, write:

As the information age deepens, a globe-circling realm of the mind is being created – the ìnoosphereî that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin identified 80 years ago. This will increasingly affect the nature of grand strategy and diplomacy. Traditional realpolitik, which ultimately relies on hard (principally military) power, will give way to the rise of noˆpolitik (or noˆspolitik), which relies on soft (principally ideational) power. This paper reiterates the authorsí views as initially stated in 1999, then adds an update for inclusion in a forthcoming handbook on public diplomacy. One key finding is that non-state actors – unfortunately, especially Al Qaeda and its affiliates – are using the Internet and other new media to practice noˆpolitik more effectively than are state actors, such as the U.S. government. Whose story wins – the essence of noˆpolitik – is at stake in the worldwide war of ideas