Cyber Warfare and its relationship to Information Warfare (Part 1)


Cyberwar (C.W) is the intrusion by a country to another nations’ network or computers with an aim of causing disruption or damage. These intruders may not only be a country but also include non-state parties such as companies, terrorist groups, hackers, transnational criminal sects and ideological and political extremist groups.

Cyber Warfare involves, acts such as Espionage, Sabotage, and denial-of-service attack (DoS attack). For instance, people do not consider Espionage as an episode of the war, although some acts can cause adverse pressure between nations and often regarded as attacks. For example, Espionage is seen when the US massively spy on other countries as exposed by Edward Snowden. Also, the undertaking by NSA to record nearly all mobile phone conversations in the Bahamas without permission from the Bahamian government is a show of Espionage (Bourquin, & Utica College, 2012).

Denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a move to make a network or a machine unavailable to the intended users. The culprits of DoS attack service stations with powerful Internet servers such as root name servers and banks. DoS attack does not include computer based only but also acts like cutting of undersea communication cables (Shui, 2014).

Information Warfare

On the other hand, Information Warfare (I.W) is also known as Information Operations (I.O). It is the United States military concept that involves the management and use of communication technology and information to one’s competitive advantage over an opponent. Information Warfare (I.W) entails spreading of propaganda, collecting tactical information, and undermining the opponent’s information (Ventre, 2012).

United States military, for instance, embraces the use of technology and, therefore, extending to Electronic Warfare,  Cyberwarfare and Computer Network Operations Attack.Information Warfare comes in various forms like Radio and television transmission jamming, disabling logistics networks and disabling the enemy’s communication.

Approximately 120 nations like China, Russia,  India, Germany and Britain have been working to develop ways of using the internet to better financial markets and target government’s computer systems and utilities. In this pursuit, countries often find themselves developing mechanisms of defeating a competitor that can lead to Cyberwarfare (Clarke, & Knake, 2012).

Most countries view Cyberwar as a section of Information Operations. Information control is part and parcel of military operations. Information Operations (I.O) is a developing field dating back to the ancient times. The emergence of Information Warfare dated back to the late 1970s when the United States warfighting domains were using diverse capabilities.These gave rise to what is known today as Information Operations, acknowledging the crucial role played by information as a key component national power via the full range of conflict, war and peace. Today, many armed forces perceive Information Warfare as a key military competency.They view Information as a target and a weapon in warfare and also think that knowledge superiority and information can win warfares (Rosenzweig, 2013).

Significance of understanding Cyber Warfare

Understanding Cyber warfare is important because of the environment we find ourselves in now- the information technology. The enormous advances in communication technology and information have unpredictable outcomes in our lives; a considerable part of our lives and our activities depend highly on information infrastructure. Such dependence is evident in both private and public domains.

Vital factors of life like air, railway, road, traffic control, telecommunications systems and key government departments such as national defence are monitored and organised via networked systems and computers. Therefore, Cyber warfare is an important subject that needs attention from not only by the military intelligence organisations but also by the officials in security firms and banks. Intelligence officers and the defence’s  fear is the attack by enemy nations, criminal groups, and terrorist on networks like: Banking systems, telephone networks, electric utilities and airways control centres. Such attacks can cause the destruction of monetary transaction records, blackouts, communication breakdown and plane and train crashes due to misrouting.

Why Cyber Warfare is a preferred form of War

Many nations prefer cyber war because of some advantages. First, Cyber Warfare is cheap since there are no weapons or troops needed; secondly, its entry cost is low- with internet access and a computer anybody can engage in Cyberwar. Also, Cyberwar can be done from anywhere in the world. The tools needed for Cyberwar are readily available on the internet, so it becomes easy to carry out. Also, Cyberwar does not require physical fighting hence saving lives. As compared to other forms of warfare, Cyberwar remains to be the “best” form of war in the globe since it outweighs other forms of warfare in terms of advantages.

Connection between Cyber Warfare and Information Operations

To understand the relationship between Cyber Warfare and Information Warfare, one should understand two terms: Cyberspace and  Cyber superiority. Cyberspace refers to the electronic systems and devices, the Internet, computer networks, telecommunication, and satellite systems. However, the military interprets Cyberspace differently.  According to the document “ National Military Strategy of Cyberspace Operations,” of the United States, Cyberspace is a “Domain characterised by the use of electronic and electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify, and exchange data through networked systems and associated physical infrastructures”. Cyberspace pre-exists across domains of land, air, sea and space and connects these domains with Cognitive operations that operations that are modified stored or exchanged (Carr, 2012).

During the occurrences taking place in the Cyberspace, conception and maintenance of the network capabilities of friendly forces and the destruction and weakening of the opponent are significant. All activities happening in the Cyberspace strive to acquire and conserve Cyber superiority. Therefore, “Cyber Superiority is the section of information superiority that one can reach with various networked electronic devices, systems and computers”. Since Cyber Superiority is a section of Information Superiority, therefore, its achievements can be noted with Cyber war inside the Information Operations (Ventre, 2011).

Considering the militarian explanation on Cyberspace, the Cyberspace undertakings imply more than computer networked processes. Activities such as intercepting telecommunications networks, mapping communication networks, blasting databases, overloading the server, and attacks on navigation systems, and radars relates to cyberspace operations (Armistead, 2007).

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