How Did We Get Here?
The module learning objectives:
- To explore the concept of the Information Revolution by looking
to the period of the 1950's to present.
- Present the user with enough information to answer the question,
How did we get here? in the context of Information Warfare.
- To answer the questions: What is Information Warfare? And, why
is it an issue?
We can recall images of the ancient courier with a message written
on his scalp.
Most of us have seen movies where the medieval king applies the
royal seal that verifies the message to be his own.
Looking to the American Civil War, we can recall the use of signal
towers on which communicators relayed the commander's message via
As time marches on, leaders need faster and more efficient means
Both speed and distance were overcome by the use of electronic
communications. Advances were made in the speed by which information
could flow, travel far distances, and be encoded.
The pace of communications development during the early 20th century
was nearly linear. Advances in one trade motivated advances in another.
During WW II all aspects of communication were utilized by both
the military and civilian sectors. President Roosevelt, the Great
Communicator, used the air waves to rally the American people and
Introduction of the Atomic Age, 1945
The spark that started the information flame that is now burning
was struck by the atom bomb. This flame is known as the Information
The concept of immediate and complete destruction induced leaders
to reconsider every aspect of government
operations. America responded by preparing both the government
and civilian infrastructure for the what-if Scenario. The strike
from the blue nuclear threat forced our government into an unprecedented
level of inter-agency cooperation. Communications technology played
a major role in not only providing indicators and warning of an
impending threat, but also made effective command and control possible.
As a result, communications research and development became a pivotal
technology in securing our nation. Now one could argue that the
emerging threat posed by the information revolution calls for our
nation's leaders to pull together and consider an Information Civil
Defense policy, i.e., Information Assurance.
It is important to realize just how frightened America became during
those years. You may recall the term duck
Images of total destruction generated a national fear that supported
the massive build-up of the defense infrastructure.
THE TRUTH: Barring the instantaneous collapse of the Russian
government, a contingency I do not foresee under present circumstances,
war is inevitable. When the leaders in the Kremlin are convinced
that their superiority in nuclear weapons and the means to deliver
them are superior to ours by a proportion sufficient to enable
Russians to destroy Americans with acceptable damage in retaliation,
they will not hesitate to use them. Although the carnage will
be horrible, civilization will not be wiped out -- Russian civilization,
2. There can be no defense against atomic weapons; we are doomed
to destruction and can only despair....
Kenneth D. Barrett, The Deception of Civil Defense, 1964,
Independence Press, Inc.
After 1945, the communications user base grew by several orders
of magnitude. Our nation's leadership needed the capability to know
within minutes of an impending Soviet attack.
Each of these national efforts had a voracious appetite for communications
Further, the traditional point-to-point communications concept
became obsolete. The network concept was born.
The birth of ARPANET from the original DARPA requirement soon evolved
into the INTERNET most of us use today. What started as a government
initiative soon became essential to computer-equipped commercial
organizations; similar to the current adoption/transition of the
Global Positioning System (GPS) by the civilian sector is another
In 1960 DoD leveraged more than 90% of the telecommunications research.
Today, DoD contributes less 10%. This is an important point to consider
as DARPA would not have been able to encourage the American industrial
base to adopt the computer-to-computer communication protocol (TCP\IP)
without such influence.
For the past ten years, enhanced communications capabilities have
been shrinking the world. The futurist, Alvin Toffler refers to
a Third Wave, information revolution
which started in the mid 1980's and is guiding us toward an information-based
society. He claims that Information has power and that an information-based
evolution will significantly change our political, economic, industrial,
and domestic systems.
The Public Trust (Then and Now)
Our nation has experienced another change since the early days
of the Cold War - the erosion of public trust. The American people
expected their government to protect them from the Cold War threat.
It was understood that security meant secrecy. The WW II jingle
loose lips sink ships was still in the minds of most Americans.
The Rosenburg trials and convictions publicly confirmed that the
Soviet Bear was out and about.
However, events such as Watergate and the Pentagon Papers forced
many Americans to question the activities of their leadership. This
growing concern motivated Congress to act in the mid 1970's. Reacting
to a public call for greater control and openness, Congress dramatically
changed the way it processed legislation. Americans could now examine
their government's specific actions as role calls and voting activities
were open to public record.
It is important to recognize the magnitude of change in public
trust over the past six decades. In the early days of the cold war
people would not have questioned our government's actions to provide
security. The classification of key technologies and export control
was accepted. Cryptographical advances were considered national
treasures worth protecting.
Today Americans demand tight controls to prevent any abuse of power
by government officials. Further, the balance of individual privacy
vs. national security has shifted toward the individual. Once a
national technology, cryptography is now considered an intellectual
novelty for public use and discussion.
As our nation's policy makers develop information age legislation,
the degree of public trust will greatly influence their decisions.
Policy makers will find it increasingly more difficult to tell the
public that legislation is motivated on a classified portrayal of
threat. The people will demand an explanation. This will challenge
many departments and agencies to develop new methods of operation.
Political inertia from behind government's closed doors will resist
the transition to new policy, but change is unavoidable. Departments
and agencies will learn to adopt a widely accepted academic term,
publish or perish.
What is Information Warfare?
The term information warfare is misleading and is often shunned
by high level policy makers. The concern is that information warfare
implies some sinister plot by government to control the information
realm often called cyberspace. This is not the case. Unfortunately,
changing the term now may derail a movement within government and
industry focused on defending America in the new information age.
Our nation is becoming a network of networks (system of systems).
For the past twenty years operations once performed by humans are
now handled by computers; consider the modernization of the auto
assembly line. Our nation's power grids, natural gas pipe lines,
and transportation systems are all managed by computer networks.
Both Federal Express and United Parcel Service critically depend
upon their computer networks to get the package there on-time, as
do our nation's railways and shipping industries. Consider what
havoc a hacker could create in those data bases. Looking deeper
into our nation's dependence on computer networks we find that our
nation's industry designs and manufactures its products on Computer
Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems. For
example, the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company completely designed
and manufactured the new 777 airliner in virtual space, i.e. a paperless
design. Further, the 777 is the first commercial airliner to use
Fly-By-Wire technology - when the pilot moves the control yoke he
has no direct connection to the flight surfaces. He is simply sending
signals to a computer that in turn sends commands to powered actuators.
Sensors on the various flight control surfaces send periodic data
to the computer as to their configuration. What would a computer
virus do to one of these systems?
Until recently the aforementioned networks were protected by isolation,
i.e. they were not connected to outside data networks. However,
as we enter the information revolution these networks will become
part of the networks-of-networks. The connection of these networks
make their operation better as the systems are able to communicate.
However, the same interconnection introduces the possibility that
an unauthorized intruder may enter and corrupt the system.
Note: during the early days of the Cold War, DoD maintained dedicated,
redundant, and survivable communications. Today, 95% of DoD communications
ride on the public switch network. America has witnessed hackers
who easily penetrated and manipulated the public switch network.
Can our nation's communications net withstand a coordinated attack
from a hostile nation state? Should DoD be concerned for the security
of the public switched network?
America's economic, political, and industrial infrastructure are
now open to attack via the net; this is the essence of Information
Warfare (IW). IW offers hostile entities the capability to exploit,
disrupt, and/or destroy our nation's ability to operate.
Why are hostile forces looking to information warfare?
- No other nation, political group, or crime cartel has the ability
to challenge the U.S. in a traditional force-on-force engagement.
Consider the early days of our Revolutionary War and the way British
troops were trained to fight. They lined up in columns and marched
head-on into battle. Our patriots challenged this conventional
method of warfare and took cover. America's adversaries,
like our revolutionary ancestors, are now posturing for a new
form of warfare fought within the information sphere. This new
type of warfare can make it possible for them to exert their will
- War fighters have always considered an adversary's political,
economic, and industrial infrastructure as strategic targets.
The information revolution now offers them the ability to strike
America by non-lethal means, many times, without attribution.
The ability to exploit, disrupt, and or destroy our nation's infrastructure
by attacking its computer based operation, makes information warfare
a very cost effective weapon to our adversaries.
The challenges facing America's future are not unlike those of
the early 1950's. The difference is that the nuclear threat is replaced
by a new threat. IW effects may weigh heavily on the future of our
nation. Over the next decade our nation will have to adopt some
type of Information Policy, that establishes a means of coordinating
the defense of America's infrastructure. Likewise, DoD and the Intelligence
Community need to develop methods of providing critical technology
and information to the public and commercial sectors.
Here are the important points of this module:
- Then: DoD leveraged the majority of research. Now:
Commercial demands drive development.
- ARPANET's utility has evolved into a basic requirement.
- The public trust of government has been severely degraded.
- Information Warfare = a new way for hostile forces to exert
their influence on America's economic, political, and industrial
- Why IW? America has virtually eliminated other nation state's
ability to project classic force-on-force, i.e., our nation's
military capabilities so dominate those of other nations, few
can challenge America militarily; therefore, most nations of the
world have effectively lost their element of military power when
dealing with America policy.
- During the Cold War DoD maintained separate, dedicated, hardened
communications. Today, 95% of DoD communications ride on the public
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