Information warfare in the era of cyber conflict consists of 14 sections written by a collaboration of scholars, including Christopher Whyte, A. Trevor Thrall, and Brian M. Mazanec. The book first discusses the difference between cyber and information warfare, its history, and how they are interlinked. It also discusses the future of US information warfare. Secondly, they define information warfare in the ear of cyber conflict, thirdly its relevance of Information warfare in contemporary times and its birth time, and its increasing popularity and importance with time.
The authors contributed by describing different questions and debates, defining terms, and articulating significant analytical frameworks and evidence for thinking of Information Warfare.
Information is used as a weapon in information warfare, while in cyber conflict, information is measured as terrain over which different effects might be realized. IW is defined by the impact of information manipulation and employed as weaponry against the target audience. At the same time, cyber conflict consists of offensive cyber operations, including computer network attacks towards digital disruption. Whereas the distinction between the two terms is often negotiable. As IW has become an essential tool in cyber conflicts
Authors following broadly define information warfare within the context of cyber conflict, “The deliberate manipulation or use of information by one party on an adversary to influence the choice and decision that the adversary makes for military and strategic gain.” The books aim to help policymakers, scholars, and decision-makers think about IW smartly. In 2020, the threat of blended manipulation of a digital system was the main deal—for example, the use of cyber for exploiting online discourse results in extensive physiological and disruptive impact.
While explaining the relevance of IW, the author quoted Sun Tzu, saying all warfare is deception, and IW in command-and-control fight is psychological and military deception. The example of George Washington, during the American Revolution, used informational action to mislead his counterpart, General Howe. The author also gave three main agreements.
Firstly, due to the union of digital technologies, cyber intrusion in the form of different digital media platforms, i.e., Twitter, has made it easier to conduct it over a greater distance than at a point in history. Secondly, migrations of much of the population to social media platforms increase the relevance of IW as systemic algorithms govern the digital lives of citizens. Thirdly, due to the rapid increase in individual business and government dependence on the digital world to more or less everything, the attack on IW would result in vulnerability to exploit an entire national society.
The author explained the IW landscape in which states that attempted to restrict citizens’ access to the Internet faced the rise of domestic social networks, alternative information resources, and bloggers.
This caused new tactics of influence, and a drop in the cost of internet use for IW also contributed. Lastly, the cheap and powerful new software computer tool also played their part.
The author depicts that the primary media organization gateway has increased the porousness of the national public sphere to external media campaigns. e.g., the dominant role of the American public sphere over the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but now Russia could use social media to mislead and exploit. Many states like North Korea and Iran may use this lower cost and flexibility to implement their plan. The book addresses why modern IW works or not by the first school of thought which advocates modern IW works.
One section gives a historical context; the author quoted, “IW is the matter of recognizing old wine in a new bottle.” The book discusses the digital revolution, new dynamics, and the capability for which strategies should be formed. Section 2 discusses the evolution of IW, the phase where elements like electronic warfare, psychological warfare, intelligence, and ISR were other, but now these elements are converging due to the internet. The author warns the Western alliance, especially the US, where cyber threat entails defeating broader IW.
Section 3 discusses the historical evolution of Russia’s disintegration and IW’s role while arguing that social media use is not new. Section 4 discusses the Chinese perception of political warfare and provides a contracting perspective. China has a history of using information as a strategic tool; the main question is whether the Chinese government can continue to use this tool effectively without challenging its use of domestic adversaries. Section 5 debates who initiated IW, its end, and what its success will be. They argue that operations have risen to control cyber-enabled messages, and most efforts took place in a nation already in tension. Section 6 discusses what Grizzly Steppe is (the Russian cybercrime department against the US) and the 2016 presidential elections of the US.
Section 7 discusses the use of social media to influence operations and how malicious actors like IS use it for discourse and twist acts in their will. Section 8 discusses the role of cyber instruments in sophisticated IW and the threat model of IW. Section 9 accepts today’s propaganda tactics and cyber exploit human psychology, making IW more powerful and providing governmental measures to cope with it. Section 10 discusses the first school of thought, which holds that modern IW is more robust due to medium efforts that are the new technologies and information to people. They also address how democracies can empower their military while highlighting some challenges, risking civil society’s social, economic, and political freedom. The authors’ advice to adopt private actors to maximize capabilities
Section 11 talks about the US government’s role and the components responsible for handling cyber-enabled IW, including the Department of Defense, education, and justice, and draws attention to future challenges the US would face due to modern IW. Section 12 depicts unsettled issue, and ascription Challenges makes a grey area in International Law that should be resolved. Section 13 discusses the development of international norms to restrain IW. Section 13 discusses “how deep rabbit hole goes.” He demonstrates essential opportunities for foreign intrusion, conflict escalation, and destruction of the social-political process.
This book provides a cyber security context of conceptual and experimental exploration of developing perspectives of IW and its implication for the US and other international actors.
The author is a Strategic Studies scholar at The National Defense University, Islamabad.